Leicester 2-1 Club Brugge: Foxes qualify for Champions League knockout stages with win
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 23/11/16 6:14am
Leicester qualified for the Champions League knockout stages on Tuesday evening but did so with a nervy 2-1 win against Club Brugge at the King Power Stadium.
The Foxes needed just a point to make it through to the last 16 and raced into a 2-0 lead within half an hour.
Shinji Okazaki opened the scoring in the fifth minute before Riyad Mahrez converted from the penalty spot to put the Premier League champions in control.
Brugge produced a much improved second-half display with Jose Izquierdo scoring seven minutes after the restart to end Leicester's run of clean sheets in the competition.
But Claudio Ranieri's men hung on for the victory to seal their spot in the knockout stages and top the group ahead of Porto and Copenhagen, who played out a 0-0 draw in Group G's other fixture.
It was the perfect start for Leicester as they took an early lead after a sublime touch from Jamie Vardy to take the ball round his defender and set off Christian Fuchs on the left flank. His cross found Okazaki, who glided the ball past Brugge goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle.
The busy opening quarter continued as Hans Vanaken's cross destined for Izquierdo was collected by Ron Robert-Zieler before Okazaki nearly made it two - but Butelle was down low to keep him at bay.
The Foxes got their second on the 30-minute mark as Dion Cools clipped Marc Albrighton on the edge of the box and referee Ruddy Buquet pointed to the spot. Mahrez made no mistake in expertly dispatching the penalty to make it 2-0.
Both goalkeepers were called into action as the first half drew to a conclusion, with Butelle making a high save to collect a Wes Morgan header before Zieler - starting in place of the injured Kasper Schmeichel - produced a fantastic leaping stop to clear a curling effort from Izquierdo.
Brugge made Leicester work for their victory in the second half, and pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute. It was a great solo effort from Izquierdo, who looked lively in possession, making a driving run from the halfway line and thumping the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box to give the visitors a lifeline.
Vardy had not scored in 13 appearances for his club and thought the drought was over on the hour mark when he flicked a Fuchs cross into the back of the net - but the linesman's flag was correctly raised for offside.
Substitute Jeff Schlupp wasted a fine chance ten minutes later when he shot straight into the hands of Butelle despite having options on either side, before Foxes captain Morgan was called into defensive action to stop a fizzing Anthony Limbombe cross from finding the head of Jelle Vossen.
Brugge twice went close in the final ten minutes, with a Hans Vanaken cross just evading the toe of an unmarked Vossen at the back post before Robert Huth almost turned a bouncing ball into his own net.
Demarai Gray was also twice thwarted by Butelle in injury time, but Leicester did not need a third goal to seal their victory as they confirmed their place in the knockout stages in their maiden Champions League season.