Brendan Rodgers praised the fighting spirit of his Leicester City side after they battled back from a goal down three times to draw 3-3 with Braga and qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League.
Leicester trailed at the interval in Thursday’s clash through goals from Al Musrati and Paulinho either side of Harvey Barnes’ equaliser.
Teenage defender Luke Thomas struck to level up but the visitors looked to have thrown away the point they needed to advance when Fransergio slotted in on the counter in the 90th minute.
However, substitute Jamie Vardy rounded off a move he started to snatch Leicester a point in the fifth minute of added time and with it a place in the knockout stage.
Leicester are three points clear of second-placed Braga with two rounds of fixtures to go, and Rodgers is hopeful of finishing top of Group G, which means avoiding one of the Champions League drop-outs in the next stage.
“We’ve achieved the first objective, which is to qualify,” he told LCFC TV. “Now, we want to try and ensure that we go on and win the group.
“It was a really good game. I thought in the second half, we were outstanding. We came from behind three times.
Coming in clutch pic.twitter.com/B1EOuu179T
— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 26, 2020
“We weren’t very good in the first half at all, we were too slow, and that means that defensively and offensively, it was too static. So, they were the better team in the first half, then we made some changes in the second half.
“That brought a different dynamic to the team – better movement, better speed in the game. We were excellent in the second half.
“In saying that, we made a mistake in our pressing and they had the chance to win it, but it just typifies the mentality in the group to keep going and to get that equaliser right at the end.
“We thoroughly deserved it and that was obviously an important point for us. It says everything; they’re never beaten, and that’s what is important.”
Leicester had 48 per cent of the ball in the first half at the Estadio Municipal de Braga but that increased to 63 per cent in an improved second-half display that saw them attempt four shots on target.
The European draw comes four days on from a 3-0 loss to Liverpool in the Premier League that halted a six-game winning streak in all competitions, and Rodgers was pleased with the way his men bounced back.
“It’s important for us coming off a disappointing result against Liverpool that we come in and perform well,” he said.
“I think there was a little bit of a hangover from that in the first half. Obviously, I’m having to make changes to manage the physicality of the team. Our challenge in the second half was to come back and not lose the game.
“I thought we did that, and I thought we were excellent in our play. We got into some great areas and maybe should have won the game.
“But we’ll take the point, away from home in Europe. A point is important and we’re really happy to qualify.”
Youri Tielemans was only introduced at half-time yet no player on the pitch played more passes in the opposition half than the Belgium midfielder’s 34.
“We wanted Youri to be the controller,” Rodgers said at his post-match news conference. “He dictated the tempo of the game.
“In the second half, we were excellent in our football and he and James [Maddison] were the catalysts for that. It was a much better second half and it was an exciting game.”
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