Leicester right at home on Champions League bow
The Leicester City fairytale has another chapter after they eased to a 3-0 away win in their Champions League debut on Wednesday, as Monaco beat Tottenham at Wembley in front of a record crowd for an English club.
On a night of goals, Sergio Aguero hit a hat-trick as Manchester City hammered Borussia Moenchengladbach 4-0 at home in a fixture which took place 24 hours late after rain forced the game off on Tuesday, while a rampant Borussia Dortmund smashed Legia Warsaw for six.
But the headlines will all be about Leicester, who stunned the football world last season when they went from relegation candidates to Premier League champions in the space of 12 miraculous months.
An away trip to Club Brugge of Belgium was not exactly the stuff of Leicester’s European dreams, but they showed some of the verve that has been missing so far this season as Riyad Mahrez struck twice, one of them a sumptuous free-kick and the other a penalty.
Much tougher tests surely await for the Foxes, but this was an accomplished, clinical performance in their first European outing since losing to Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Cup first round in 2000.
Also in Group G are Porto and FC Copenhagen, who played out a 1-1 draw in Portugal to leave Leicester top of the pile after the opening fixtures.
Current French league leaders Monaco were also notable winners on the night, stunning Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in an incident-packed encounter at “the home of football” in front of 85,011 fans — a record home attendance for an English club.
Tottenham are back in the Champions League for the first time in five years and, with the capacity at their White Hart Lane stadium reduced due to redevelopment, they opted to play their European matches at Wembley this season.
The iconic Wembley arch was lit up in Tottenham’s blue and white, but that was the extent of the home comforts for Mauricio Pochettino’s side as they paid the price for a sloppy first-half display.
Goals from Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar put Monaco in command and although Toby Alderweireld got one back, Tottenham were unable to turn their second-half dominance into an equaliser in a feisty encounter.
In Madrid, Champions League holders Real had a big scare at home to Sporting Lisbon, as Cristiano Ronaldo — against his former club — and Alvaro Morata struck in the closing minutes to seal a stunning comeback and win 2-1.
Madrid looked to be heading for their first home defeat in the competition for five years after Bruno Cesar’s low effort three minutes into the second-half handed Sporting a thoroughly merited lead.
However, in a frantic finale, Ronaldo’s free-kick levelled the game before Morata met James Rodriguez’s cross deep into stoppage time to complete a dramatic fightback.
In Turin, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Sami Khedira fired blanks as Sevilla held dominant but wasteful Juventus to a scoreless draw.
No Comments yet