CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DEBUTANTS LEICESTER BEGIN CAMPAIGN WITH IMPRESSIVE VICTORY
The English Champions were not intimidated. Neither were they out of their depth nor out of their league, or even out of their class — they were out of this world. Leicester City: they know what they are. And, as champions of England they flew that flag gloriously last night
This scoreline did not flatter them. If anything, they could have won by more. Nor did they pull out any fancy tricks, or try to play Europe at its own patient game.
Belgian champions Bruges are champions in their own right too but Leicester treated them like any Premier League opponent — utilising a fast, pressing game, giving them long throws and extremes of athleticism to counter. And Bruges, like so many of the vanquished last season, did not know what to do with that.
The home team actually got a little lucky. Goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle should have been sent off for sending Jamie Vardy flying in the 59th minute, but the stupid double jeopardy rules that now preclude a red card and a penalty in all but the most exceptional circumstances saved him.
Fortunately, Riyad Mahrez saw justice done by smashing his shot straight down the middle, after Butelle had committed left. He became the first player to score a free-kick and a penalty in the same Champions League game since Robin van Persie for Manchester United in 2014.
Leicester continued to announce themselves on the champions league scene in style and they looked like tested veterans already. They were comfortable within 30 minutes and fully warranted their first win in European competition since beating Glenavon in the 1961-62 European Cup-Winners Cup.
Who knows where it will lead from here. Porto, at home, are next. Can they? After the events of the last 12 months, who out there is brave enough to bet against them? but caution however is needed, this competition will bring you crashing back down to earth if you start believing your hype.
The wonderful thing about Leicester though is that they thrived once in a competition no one gave them a chance last year, and in this one teams will do well not to underestimate them.