Leicester leapfrogged all three of their Europa League rivals to the top of Group C after a comfortable 3-1 win against Legia Warsaw at the King Power Stadium.
The Foxes started Thursday’s game bottom of a tight group, but with Spartak Moscow beating Napoli 2-1 on Wednesday, Brendan Rodgers’ side now sit top thanks to first-half goals from Patson Daka, James Maddison and Wilfried Ndidi.
The only negative for Rodgers on the night aside from Filip Mladenovic’s consolation strike was losing Jonny Evans to a muscle injury in the warm-up, with Daniel Amartey replacing him in defence.
The Premier League outfit will travel to Napoli for the final game of the group stage knowing that a draw will be enough to see them qualify for the knockout stage.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 25, 2021
Leicester put the pressure on the visitors from the first whistle and were ahead in the 11th minute when good work from Harvey Barnes forced a deflection that fell kindly for Daka, who calmly slid in his fifth Europa League goal of the campaign.
They doubled their lead in the 21st minute as Maddison worked the ball onto his left foot after a one-two with Ademola Lookman before firing into the top corner of the net.
The Polish side had a penalty just five minutes later after Caglar Soyuncu’s clearance struck Wilfried Ndidi on the arm. Mahir Emreli’s spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel but Mladenovic was quickest to follow up and slot in the rebound.
Ndidi made amends for his penalty concession in the 33rd minute, though, as the unmarked Nigerian headed in Leicester’s third from a Maddison corner.
Both teams could have added to the scoring in the second half but the hosts were happy to see out the win, only their second in this year’s Europa League group stage.
What does it mean? Foxes in the driving seat
Leicester avenged the 1-0 defeat they suffered in the reverse fixture on matchday two with relative ease and now sit top of Group C, one point ahead of both Spartak Moscow and Napoli.
Rodgers will be more than satisfied with that after picking up just one point from their first two games in the group, though it promises to be a tough final fixture in Naples in two weeks.
The Foxes have now only lost two of their 16 home matches in European football (W9 D5).
Maddison rises to the occasion
Maddison has had a quiet start to the season, but was at his influential best in the hour he got on the pitch against Legia, taking three shots, making two key passes and putting in six crosses.
The 25-year-old also scored and assisted in a single game for Leicester for the third time in all competitions, previously doing so against Sporting Braga (November 2020 in the Europa League) and Brentford (January 2021 in the FA Cup).
Legia Warsaw in crisis
Marek Golebiewski’s side have now lost nine of their last ten games in all competitions and sit second from bottom in the Polish top flight.
This was Legia Warsaw’s first European match in England since November 1995, when they drew 0-0 with Blackburn Rovers in the Champions League group stages, and despite getting on the scoresheet, never looked like stopping the rot in Leicester.
3 – Leicester have scored three goals in the first half of a game in major European competition (excl. qualifiers) for just a second time, previously doing so against Glenavon in the Cup Winners’ Cup back in September 1961. Rampant.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 25, 2021
Key Opta Facts: Daka rallies Leicester
– Legia Warsaw suffered their first ever away defeat to English opposition in European competition, having drawn their previous two away games against such opposition (1-1 v Man Utd in April 1991 and 0-0 v Blackburn in November 1995).
– Leicester scored three goals in the first half of a game in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) for just a second time, previously doing so against Glenavon in the Cup Winners’ Cup back in September 1961.
– Only Jamie Vardy (seven) has scored more goals for Leicester in all competitions this season than Daka (six), with five of his six goals for the Foxes coming in the Europa League.
– Despite conceding from the rebound, Schmeichel made his first penalty save for Leicester (excluding shootouts) since June 2020 v Brighton in the Premier League, conceding nine consecutive penalty goals for the Foxes in all competitions prior to this game.
Leicester host former boss Claudio Ranieri and his Watford team in the Premier League on Sunday, while Legia Warsaw are at home to Jagiellonia Bialystok on the same day in the Ekstraklasa.
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