LEICESTER sped from the bottom of Group C to the top of the table to seize control of their own Europa League destiny.
First half goals from Patson Daka, James Maddison and Wilfred Ndidi set Brendan Rodgers‘ Foxes up for a final-day decider in Naples on December 9 after a game marred by angry clashes between cops and Legia fans.
Wilfred Ndidi celebrates after scoring the third goal for Leicester[/caption]
The 3-1 win over Legia Warsaw moved the Foxes from bottom to top spot in Group C[/caption]
It has taken five games and several setbacks to get to this stage but finally, the cream appears to be rising to the top.
However Leicester will have to prove it against current joint Serie A leaders Napoli in a hostile Diego Armando Maradona Stadium – when they really will have to show their bottle.
Rodgers’ battlers suffered a pre-match blow when Jonny Evans pulled a muscle during the warm-up and had to be replaced by Daniel Amartey.
However it quickly became clear defenders were an optional extra, rather than a necessity, as this pair went at it hammer and tongs!
Four goals flew in before the break in a breathless first 45 minutes which would have had defensive purists watching through the cracks in their fingers.
However it was great entertainment for the rest of us.
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Patson Daka – who else? – set the ball rolling after 11 minutes to overtake Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Harvey Barnes as the Foxes all-time top scorer in Europe with his fifth goal in the competition.
Rodgers’ plea for more aggression was heeded by Luke Thomas who muscled possession back for Leicester and fed Harvey Barnes who drove at the heart of the Polish defence.
Holding off his opponent, the winger slipped in Daka who expertly rolled Mateusz Wieteska before drilling a low shot beyond Cezary Miszta from 10 yards.
It was just the start Leicester wanted against the struggling Polish champs whose form has nosedived since beating Leicester 1-0 in September, losing eight of their nine games.
Ten minutes later the cracks in the visitors’ defence surfaced again as Leicester doubled their lead as James Maddison maintained his recent return to form.
He combined with Ademola Lookman in the box and bamboozled two defenders with a cute Cruyff turn before sweeping a sweet left-foot shot which ripped into the top corner of Miszta’s net.
But any hopes home fans had of a canter against the Polish relegation battlers vanished when the Foxes conceded a bizarre penalty.
Caglar Soyuncu threw himself at a cross but his header caught Wilf Ndidi’s outstretched hand and eagle-eyed German ref Deniz Aytekin pointed to the spot before anyone else realised why.
Polish fans began attacking police in ugly scenes that marred the game[/caption]
Brendan Rodgers and his side travel to Napoli for their final group game[/caption]
Once VAR confirmed Herr Aytekin was spot on, Kasper Schmeichel dived to his left to block Mahir Emreli’s attempt – only for Filip Mladenovic to beat Castagne to slam home the rebound.
Once again Leicester had failed to keep a clean sheet but they soon steadied their nerves to add a third to restore their two goal lead.
Maddison swept in a laser-guided corner kick and 20-year-old ‘keeper Miszta lived up to his name by taking a clean air swipe at the incoming delivery.
That appalling blunder allowed the unmarked Ndidi to head into a gaping net from just four yards out to put the Foxes back in control.
To their credit the Poles did their best to make a fist of it and Soyuncu heroically slid in to deny Luquinhas a simple tap-in, before Wieteska had a header headed off the line by Castagne.
To their supporters’ shame, around 100 thugs in the 1,100 strong visitors section also made a fist of it – throwing punches and kicks at the police.
An orchestrated display of bright red flares was the signal for the Legia ultras to flare up themselves as they tried to charge on Leicester fans.
However this time the response was swifter than it had been when Napoli fans kicked off and squads of riot police swarmed into the area, using batons to force back the Polish hooligans.
It was an ugly end to the night ahead of Leicester’s final game in Naples, which will now decide the group.
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