Leicester right at home on Champs bow

Leicester right at home on Champs bow

Ronaldo and Morata save Madrid

1024
0
SHARE
Juventus’ Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini (C) vies for the ball with Sevilla’s Argentinian defender Nicolas Pareja (L) during their UEFA Champions League match at the Juventus Stadium in Turin Wednesday. — AFP
Juventus’ Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini (C) vies for the ball with Sevilla’s Argentinian defender Nicolas Pareja (L) during their UEFA Champions League match at the Juventus Stadium in Turin Wednesday. — AFP

PARIS — The Leicester City fairytale has another chapter after it eased to a 3-0 away win in its Champions League debut 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.

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring a goal against Borussia Monchengladbach during their UEFA Champions League match at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, Wednesday. — Reuters
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring a goal against Borussia Monchengladbach during their UEFA Champions League match at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, Wednesday. — Reuters
But the headlines will all be about Leicester, which stunned the football world last season when it went from relegation candidate to Premier League champion 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 it showed some of the verve it has been missing so far this season as Riyad Mahrez struck twice, one of them a sumptuous free-kick and the other a penalty.

“From our first chance we scored and from that point we had the control of the match and Brugge had the control of the ball,” said Leicester’s colorful Italian manager Claudio Ranieri.

“We played our style. It was good for us to start our story with a victory.”

Much tougher tests surely await the Foxes, but this was an accomplished, clinical performance in its 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 leader Monaco was also notable winner 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 is back in the Champions League for the first time in five years and, with the capacity at its White Hart Lane stadium reduced due to redevelopment, it opted to play its 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 it 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 was unable to turn its second-half dominance into an equalizer in a feisty encounter.

In Madrid, Champions League holder Real had a big scare at home to Sporting Lisbon, as Cristiano Ronaldo — against his boyhood club — and substitute Alvaro Morata struck in the closing minutes to seal a stunning comeback and win 2-1.

Madrid looked to be heading for its 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 leveled the game — he refused to celebrate — before Morata met James Rodriguez’s cross deep into stoppage time to complete a dramatic fightback.

“We started the game a little passively,” Ronaldo told BeIN Sports. “But football is like this and Real Madrid are like this. The comebacks form part of this legendary stadium.”

In Turin, Gonzalo Higuain and Sami Khedira fired blanks as Sevilla held dominant but wasteful Juventus to a 0-0 draw.

NO COMMENTS