Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City have booked a place in the knockout phase of the Champions League following a 2 – 1 win over Club Brugge on Tuesday night.
The 5,000-1 English Premier League champions confirmed their spot in the next round with a game to spare and as group winners, meaning they would be among the first seeds in the draw.
Leicester took an early lead in the fifth minute through their Japanese forward, Shinji Okazaki. The Foxes controlled the game from then onward and were awarded a penalty in the 30th minute after Marc Albrighton was brought down in the box.
African Player of the Year Nominee Riyad Mahrez converted the spot-kick to register his fourth Champions League goal of the campaign.
The King Power stadium turned into a huge party as Leicester looked to cruise to another routine victory in Europe’s elite club competition.
A wonderful solo breakaway goal from Jose Izquierdo early in the second half reduced the deficit and gave Brugge a chance as they pushed for an equaliser. The complexion of the match changed as Leicester began to look nervy but were able to hold on for the victory.
Claudio Ranieri speaking after the game said he was not satisfied with his team’s performance. ”We concede a goal on the counter-attack. Why?” he asked.
”An Italian manager concedes a goal on a counter-attack, I get crazy.”
On which European powerhouse he would like to face in the next round, a smiling Ranieri replied: ”I don’t know. It’s not important, believe me.”
”I hope to be there in good condition. That’s important. The name is not important. It will be another fairytale. Win, lose, it’s not important. It’s important to go there.”
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The big question now for the English champions is if they can transform their European form to the domestic league where they have performed very badly.
”Our minds must go on the Premier League,” said Claudio Ranieri. ”We’re very close to relegation and we must play at the same level as the Champions League.”