Islam Slimani can be Leicester’s Dragon slayer against Porto
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 26/09/16 3:29pm
Why Porto have every reason to fear Leicester striker Islam Slimani, the Dragon slayer.
To the supporters of Sporting, Islam Slimani was the Lion King because of his old club's nickname. But when the Lions of Sporting played against the Dragons of Porto in one of Portugal's biggest fixtures, the Algerian went by another name: The Dragon slayer.
Slimani scored six goals in as many games against Porto, punishing the rivals from the north time and time again. He scored braces at home and away - signing off last month with a customary goal in Sporting's 2-1 win at the Jose Alvalade Stadium.
Now at Leicester following his £29m deadline day move to the Premier League, it hasn't taken long for the fixture list to throw up a reunion. The Foxes' first ever Champions League game at the King Power sees Porto come to town - and Slimani will be waiting.
With the striker having already netted no fewer than five times against Porto in 2016 alone, Claudio Ranieri will surely seek to unleash him on Tuesday night. Here, we look at precisely why it's Slimani - not Riyad Mahrez or Jamie Vardy - who Porto fans will be fearing most…
Sporting 1-0 Porto, March 2014
Even last season Sporting coach Jorge Jesus felt moved to describe Slimani as "a player full of technical and tactical defects" so there's no denying that the 25-year-old who arrived in Portugal in the summer of 2013 was a raw talent indeed.
The African Vardy?
The views of Algerian and Portuguese journalists on Islam Slimani's amazing rise to the top.
As a result, Slimani's early opportunities came from the bench. He took them, scoring four league goals as a substitute plus a stoppage-time cup equaliser against Benfica. But by the time Porto visited in March, he was a starter having scored in the previous three matches.
An early second-half header from Andre Martins' cross extended that run to four in four, nodding in from close range. It proved to be a big six-pointer as that was eventually the difference between second and third - securing Sporting's place in the Champions League.
Sporting 2-0 Porto, January 2016
After failing to find the net against Porto in the 2014/15 season, Slimani more than made up for it in the following campaign. That didn't seem particularly likely given that Porto had not lost a league game in almost a year ahead of their trip to Lisbon in January 2016.
But Slimani was the hero, scoring twice to help Sporting overhaul their opponents at the top of the table. He headed in from a free-kick for the first before latching on to Bryan Ruiz's through-ball to beat Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas for the second.
The goals marked the start of a hot streak for the forward in which he scored 10 times in eight games. Unfortunately for his team, several slip-ups at home meant they were relying on Benfica to drop points by the time of the return trip to Porto in April.
Porto 1-3 Sporting, April 2016
That didn't happen with Benfica winning their last dozen league games to ensure Sporting's wait for a first title since 2002 goes on. But Slimani was able to get his first goals in the Estadio do Dragao, scoring twice against Porto in a 3-1 victory.
The forward's intensity made the difference with 'Super Slim' making the most of his opportunities to silence the crowd. Sergio Pires of Maisfutebol praised the striker's "ferocity, efficiency and selflessness" identifying him as the clear man of the match.
A final goal against Braga on the last day of the season saw Slimani finish the campaign with 27 league goals. That was enough to place him seventh in the race for the European Golden Shoe and attract interest from Premier League champions Leicester.
Sporting 2-1 Porto, August 2016
However, there was still time for one last goal in a Sporting shirt. Of course, it had to come against his favourite opponents. They won't come much easier either - blasting home the equaliser from on the line after Casillas could only parry the ball into his path.
The winner came soon after and with Slimani's switch to Leicester already agreed, there were tears from the big forward at full-time. It was a fine way to say goodbye to the Sporting supporters. For the Porto fans, the farewell hasn't been nearly long enough.