Club Brugge 0-3 Leicester City, Champions League, 14th September 2016
We sent 100%LCFC Scott Davies to watch the first ever Champions league match for Leicester City and here is his report…..
That was the best away game I’ve ever been to! Simply incredible!
Leicester City travelled to Belgium to take on Brugge in their debut of the UEFA Champions League. 1400 Foxes fans managed to get tickets but it appeared there were several thousand more who had taken a trip to Belgium to soak up the party atmosphere.
Union FS supplied flags for every fan and the clappers even made their way into the Jan Breydel Stadium. Love them or loathe them, they certainly get the fans going and the Foxes faithful didn’t stop singing, dancing or partying.
Team news brought a couple of changes from the 4-1 defeat to Liverpool with Simpson not being risked after a slight injury, with Luis Hernandez taking his place. The other omission was Shinji Okazaki, who didn’t make the squad, with record signing Islam Slimani being preferred and Ulloa and Musa as the attacking options on the bench.
I’m sure I wasn’t alone as the hairs stood up on the back of my neck as the Champions League music played when the teams took to the field. Simply surreal and breathtaking.
City kicked off the match but it was they who nearly concealed early on as Hanz Vanaken played Jose Izquierdo through with only Schmeichel to beat, however, the Columbian dragged his shot wide of the post. An early scare for the Foxes.
However, just 2 minutes later, City took the lead. Luis Hernandez launched a long throw from the right flank, Brugge ‘keeper Ludovic Butelle flapped at the ball which kindly fell to Marc Albrighton who only had to get his shot on target to place the ball into an empty net. Que scenes of jubilation on and off the pitch, as Albrighton, who was released from Aston Villa just 2 years ago had scored the Foxes first ever Champions League goal. Incidentally former European Champions Villa were playing Brentford at Villa Park in a Championship game which finished 1-1.
From that moment on, City looked comfortable. The nerves had settled and they grew into the game. Vardy was causing all sorts of problems for the Brugge back line and on 27 the England Number 9 raced through only to be upended by Timmy Simons who was shown a yellow card.
Riyad Mahrez and Danny Drinkwater stood over the resulting free kick but it was the Algerian who let rip with an unstoppable left foot curler into the top left corner to put City 2-0 up. Brugge were shell shocked and City were in dreamland.
City were cruising and almost went further ahead on 35 as Danny Drinkwater hit a speculative volley which dipped wildly causing Butelle to tip the shot over for a corner. Algerian team mates Islam Slimani and Riyad Mahrez then combined cleverly before Mahrez curled a shot just wide of the left hand post. Brugge were glad the half time whistle came as the Foxes were really piling on the pressure.
There were no changes for either team at half time, however Brugge were forced into a change not long into the second period. Islam Slimani picked up a booking for a shove on Bjorn Engels who fell awkwardly damaging his right shoulder. Benoit Poulain replaced him in the heart of the defence.
Brugge rarely threatened as City were happy to sit back and allow them to have possession. Sound familiar? Vardy was working off scraps and on 60 minutes he raced onto a loose ball and broke into the Brugge box only to be upended by the Butelle, who only received a booking under the revised rules for fouls by goalkeepers giving away spot kicks.
Up stepped Mahrez who has missed 3 of his last 4 penalties, however he smashed this one straight down the middle to put the game well beyond the Belgian outfit.
Slimani made way for Leo Ulloa on 62 with Ranieri now having one eye on Burnley at the weekend.
Brugge hit the post on 64, but other than that, they didn’t look likely to claw their way back into the match. Musa replaced Vardy and later Gray came on for Riyad Mahrez. Both Musa and Gray looked lively and Gray had a glorious chance just two minutes after coming on, but he drilled his shot just too high.
City saw the game out comfortably and gave an excellent account of themselves on the big stage becoming only the third English team to win their debut game in the UCL behind Manchester United in 1994 and Newcastle United in 1997. That said, no Belgian team has beaten an English side in the UCL since Anderlecht defeated Manchester United 2-1 in 2000 (D2 L11 since).
It’s the biggest margin of victory for an English team in their first ever Champions League fixture. Only AC Miland and A.Madrid have won by a bigger margin in their debut games, both 4-0.
Man of the Match – Riyad Mahrez.