Leicester took a while to get underway, but they finally launched their first European expedition since 2016-17, sending in their Ukrainian visitors thanks to goals from James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho Bien that they could have scored a lot more, it was a positive start to a Europa League group stage in which they will also face AEK Athens and Braga
Several of the local players stood out, especially Barnes and Wesley Fofana, but it was a particularly sweet competition for Maddison It was only his second start since undergoing hip surgery in July and that he was suffering from calf issues There was a joy in his performance that uplifted his team « When you have an injury it kind of brings back the magic » he said afterwards « It brings back your love for the game. Being back to the start, painless and in Europe for the first time, and also having a goal, makes it a special feeling »
Maddison was one of only two changes – the other being Christian Fuchs – that Brendan Rodgers made to the roster that started Leicester’s last outing in the Premier League Shakhtar Donetsk’s sensational victory at Real Madrid in Champions League Wednesday may have served as a warning against underestimating Ukrainian visitors And Zorya Luhansk, who was entering this tournament for the seventh consecutive season, got off to a good start as they tried to strengthen their attempt to advance beyond the group stages for the first time.
Speaking of firsts, no woman had ever taken charge of an England game with a Premier League side before Stephanie Frappart overseeing it Frappart refereed the 2019 Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea in Istanbul, when she made history by becoming the first woman to compete in a European men’s grand final Premier League players might not have been used to seeing a woman in the middle, but it was a trivial assignment for Frappart, who had refereed high-profile matches in France since last year, when she also officiated the Women’s World Cup final
Youri Tielemans didn’t escape Frappart’s attention in the 10th minute, as he was rightly booked for sabotaging a Zorya counterattack It sums up a frustrating start for the hosts, who have struggled to find a way through visiting defense Indeed, Rodgers’ team had an uncomfortable time chasing the ball as Zorya proved to be agile passers.
Kasper Schmeichel had to save his side in the 22nd minute when Zorya opened them, the keeper making a nice save to deny Vladyslav Kabaev
Just before half an hour Leicester came through with their first really strong attack Barnes’ shot from the left of the box bounced off the far post and Iheanacho prevented the keeper from recovering the rebound before giving the balloon to Maddison to convert at close range
Leicester took control after that, although Schmeichel almost let Zorya come back into the game with a sloppy pass just before the break.The goalkeeper was relieved to see Dmytro Ivanisenya’s lob fall over the top of the bar
Leicester quickly settled on with a brilliant goal Iheanacho threw an elegant pass on the way to Barnes, who rushed into the penalty area and finished deliciously
Leicester never looked like they were dropping points after that Barnes and Maddison started to thrive, though Maddison didn’t like the rough tackles he seemed to attract Iheanacho and Timothy Castagne have regularly joined the creative play and Fofana, who had another game accomplished at center-back, glanced at a head a few inches wide after venturing forward for a corner
Rodgers decided to take Maddison out of danger just past the hour mark, replacing him with Cengiz Under Moments later, Iheanacho went 3-0, taking advantage of a defensive error before pushing past his marker and shooting in the net from 16 meters
With Barnes unstoppable, Leicester threatened to inflict further damage, but the visitors did just enough to keep the score respectable
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Leicester City FC, UEFA Europa League, FC Zorya Luhansk, Brendan Rodgers, Jamie Vardy, Premier League
World news – GB – Leicester get off to a perfect start with a comfortable victory over Zorya Luhansk
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