The Algerian connection was once again working its magic as Leicester City took a giant step towards qualification for the knock-out stages of the European Champions league thanks to a 1-0 win over Norwegian side FC Copenhagen.
The victory, the Foxes’ third in the competition ensures that they maintain their 100 per cent start in the Champions League and remain top of group G, five points ahead of their game three opponents and FC Porto.
Riyad Mahrez got the only goal of the game just before half time, with an assist from his countryman Islam Slimani. It was the reverse during the Foxes’ victory over Porto a fortnight ago when Mahrez teed up Slimani with a pin-point cross. The pair between them have scored four of Leicester’s five goals in the competition. One more win will all but secure safe passage to the round of 16, another milestone in Leicester’s fairy tale.
The team’s delight in the Champions League makes their stuttering form in the Premier League all the more puzzling. Claudio Ranieri’s men have lost four of their first eight games and are 13th on the table, two points outside the relegation places. The Italian manager was very shrewd during the transfer window, recruiting players he felt fitted the ‘Leicester ethos’ and holding onto the heroes that delivered the city’s first title.
There however seems to be a spark missing. Jamie Vardy’s goals have dried up and Mahrez’s flamboyance of last season is nowhere to be found. Many would argue that this was to be expected given the overachievement of last season. A good run in the Champions League and a top 10 finish in the League would therefore represent a good season for the men from the Midlands.
Leicester face Crystal Palace in one of Saturday’s three o’clock kick-offs.