Leicester City’s Champions League dream continues as an all-too familiar foe for Porto pops up once again to give the three points, and top spot of Group G, to the English side.
The English champions are two straight wins into a Champions League campaign that contrasts sharply with league results currently leaving much to be desired. Their 30-million pound signing Islam Slimani scored the winning goal by getting on the end of a Riyad Mahrez cross. The towering Algerian striker had previously scored six goals in as many games against Porto while playing for Sporting Lisbon, and he has added to that goal-a-game record to notch his third strike in four outings for his new club.
Leicester were nowhere near the out of sorts displays we’ve seen from them in the league against Manchester United and Liverpool, holding firm to keep their slim lead from the 25th minute. Miguel Layun did come close to equalizing when he struck a free-kick wide of Kasper Schmeichel’s goal, as did Jesus Corona when he hit the post in the 83rd minute.
The remarkable story of the Foxes looks set to use European football as its platform for keeping pundits honest, as they are now in a commanding position in Group G. Their next two games are home and away clashes with FC Copenhagen, and they are in need of just four points in order to qualify for the knock-out phases. A remarkable statistic considering just two group games have been played.
The news of their victory also coincides with recently released comments from star striker Jamie Vardy, who revealed reasons as to why he turned down a move to Arsenal. “It wasn’t to do with ‘loyalty’,” says Vardy, “It was more of a case of seeing Leicester as a club that wanted to build on what we achieved with the title and I want to be a part of that.”
Vardy also weighed up the tactical implications of the move, knowing full-well his style clashed with a brand of football that has become synonymous with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. “You look at Arsenal’s style of play and they don’t get the ball forward quickly in the same way Leicester do for those runs I make in behind the defence,” says the Leicester man.
Indeed, perhaps a move to Arsenal might have been the more attractive deal regarding contracts and status, but not the one that made the most sense. Vardy and Leicester’s league ambitions appear to be more modest this time out and many will be quick to write off their chances for Champions League success, and rightly so. However, if the last 12 months of football have meant anything, then nothing will stop Claudio Ranieri’s side from dreaming.
‘The dream continues’ was the text the Leicester boss sent Jamie Vardy following his contract renewal, and who’s to say that dream isn’t going to continue in European football?