Okazaki and Mahrez secure top spot for Leicester

Leicester 2 Club Brugge 1: Leicester booked their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League after surviving a second-half rally to beat Club Brugge 2-1.
Okazaki and Mahrez secure top spot for Leicester

The Foxes have taken top spot in Group G meaning they go into their final trip to Porto next month in cruise control following another historic achievement in their first season in the competition.

They are five points clear of Porto, who drew 0-0 in Copenhagen, following a fourth win in five games, although they had to dig deep after Brugge improved drastically after the break.

Shinji Okazaki’s opener set the early tone at the King Power Stadium as the hosts soothed their Premier League wounds, with the defending champions just two points above the relegation zone with a quarter of the season gone.

Riyad Mahrez’s penalty gave them breathing space before Jose Izquierdo, Brugge’s bright spot, pulled a goal back after the break — the first the Foxes have conceded in this European campaign.

Robert Huth almost turned into his own net late on as Brugge finally made the game a contest but Claudio Ranieri’s side hung on.

Victory also means Leicester have more points in Europe than the Premier League after dispatching Brugge, who have lost every game in the Champions League this season.

The build-up to the game had been strangely subdued given the Foxes’ domestic struggles but Okazaki did his best to lift Leicester with a fifth-minute opener.

Leicester were in complete control and doubled their lead after 30 minutes when Mahrez grabbed his fourth Champions League goal.

Brugge never looked comfortable at the back and Cools, who lost the ball for the Foxes’ opener, clumsily chopped down Albrighton in the box to allow Mahrez to score from the spot.

It seemed game over

but fresh from a half-time pep talk from boss Michel Preud’homme the visitors came out firing and pulled a goal back after 52 minutes.

Izquierdo broke from inside his own half and outpaced the chasing hosts to produce a fine angled finish which flew high past Zieler at his near post from 15 yards.

Jamie Vardy thought he had restored Leicester’s goal-two advantage and ended his 13-game club goal drought seven minutes later but his cheeky flicked strike was correctly ruled out for offside.

Nervous Leicester began to sit deep as Brugge exerted some pressure for the first time and the Foxes lived dangerously when Huth turned a corner a yard wide of his own goal with five minutes left.

Demarai Gray could have ended the contest with two minutes to go but lacked the conviction to beat Butelle.

LEICESTER:

Zieler, Fuchs, Morgan, Huth, Simpson, Albrighton (Amartey 77), Drinkwater, King, Mahrez (Schlupp 68), Okazaki (Gray 68), Vardy.

CLUB BRUGGE:

Butelle, Cools, Poulain, Mechele , De Bock (Van Rhijn 70), Claudemir (Wesley 84), Simons, Pina (Limbombe 61), Vanaken, Vossen, Izquierdo.

Referee:

Ruddy Buquet (France).

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