Porto 5-0 Leicester: Much-changed Foxes thrashed in Portugal
By Jordan Halford in Porto
Last Updated: 08/12/16 10:39am
A much-changed Leicester side were thrashed 5-0 in Porto in their final Champions League Group G clash on Wednesday.
Having already secured top spot ahead of their trip to the Estadio do Dragao, Claudio Ranieri made 10 changes from the side that lost against Sunderland in the Premier League last weekend, and his understudies' inexperience showed as the hosts, needing a win to qualify for the last 16 themselves, cruised to victory.
Porto were out of sight by half-time, as goals from Andre Silva (6), Jesus Corona (26) and Yacine Brahimi (44) gave them clear daylight at the break.
The second half saw Porto add two further strikes through Silva (64 pen) and Diogo Jota (77) to compound the Foxes' misery on the night - the scoreline being the biggest margin of defeat by an English side in Champions League and European Cup history.
Goalkeeper Ben Hamer was handed a shock first start since January 2015, while Luis Hernandez, Marcin Wasilewski and academy graduate Ben Chilwell joined captain Wes Morgan in the back four.
Nampalys Mendy also returned to the fold in midfield after suffering an ankle injury against Arsenal way back in August, playing alongside Danny Drinkwater - who is currently serving a three-match domestic ban - with both Demarai Gray and Jeffrey Schlupp providing pace out wide.
Ranieiri opted to leave Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and top goalscorer Islam Slimani at home for the trip to Portugal, meaning Ahmed Musa partnered Shinji Okazaki in attack - but it took the hosts just six minutes to breach the champions' shaky defence through Silva, who climbed highest to head home with ease past the static Hamer in the Leicester goal.
The Foxes had picked up just one win in their previous seven games - against Club Brugge in this competition - and almost found themselves two down after just eight minutes, when Jota drove at the heart of the defence before dragging his shot wide, with Hamer rooted to the spot.
It didn't take the home side long to double their advantage though, courtesy of a sublime volley from Corona after Alex Telles had walked through the visiting defence before picking out the Mexico international midfielder to dispatch with aplomb into the top corner.
The home side's progression to the knockout stages was virtually confirmed just shy of the half-time whistle with the best goal of the game, after Danilo sauntered down the far side to pull back for the onrushing Algerian Brahimi to delicately flick home with a sumptuous back heel from inside the six-yard box.
Ranieri cut an understandably frustrated figure by the interval and with the game beyond his side's reach, the Italian made two changes for the second half, replacing Schlupp with Marc Albrighton and introducing Leonardo Ulloa for Musa.
The champions had failed to register a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes but immediately set about reducing the deficit through the energetic Gray, but he failed to divert his shot on target while at the other end, Jota was unlucky not to add a fourth after he turned Wasilewski before flashing his effort narrowly wide of the far post.
Brahimi forced Hamer into a routine stop soon after, but Porto did not have to wait long for their fourth as Drinkwater felled Silva in the box and the skilful Portuguese dusted himself down to send Hamer the wrong way in the 65th minute.
The 21-year-old was withdrawn to a rousing reception 15 minutes from time having tormented the visitors throughout, but his accomplice Jota ensured his own contribution did not go unrewarded as he slammed home Porto's fifth 13 minutes from time to inflict Ranieri's heaviest defeat in charge of the Premier League champions and a night to forget for the 2,400 travelling contingent.
Substitute Ulloa rattled the bar when he should have scored in the dying embers to sum up Leicester's evening, but Ranieri will be aware his charges will have to improve dramatically if they are to trouble the last 16.
Next up is the league visit of Manchester City to the King Power Stadium on Saturday evening, while attentions will then turn to the Champions League draw in Nyon on Monday, December 12.