Riyad Mahrez's first-half goal was all Leicester City needed for their third Group G victory as the English debutants opened up a five-point lead over FC København.
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Riyad Mahrez's first-half goal was all Leicester City needed to remain perfect in UEFA Champions League Group G as the English debutants opened up a five-point lead over FC København.
Rested for his club's Premier League duties last weekend, Mahrez marked his return to the starting line-up by flicking in Islam Slimani's knock-down before the break.
An Andreas Cornelius header flashed narrowly wide just after Leicester's goal and Kasper Schmeichel made a match-winning stop from his Denmark team-mate with a minute left as the visitors toiled to turn territorial domination into clear-cut chances. With a win in Denmark on 2 November, Leicester will be through.
Key player: Danny Drinkwater (Leicester)
Mahrez stole the headlines but it was Drinkwater, probably their most consistent player so far this term, who held things together in midfield as Leicester grew into the contest and ended with their third clean sheet in the group.
Mahrez loves this competition
It has been a disappointing season so far for Riyad Mahrez, his fellow professionals' choice as 2015/16 player of the year in England. He is not the only Leicester player who has struggled to reach last season's heights but one goal alone from the Foxes' wiry wizard in domestic competition underlines his underwhelming output.
But under the UEFA Champions League lights it has been a different story. There were two goals at Club Brugge on matchday one and a brilliant cross for Slimani's winner against Porto.
Tonight, he was a peripheral figure for 39 minutes but when it mattered, he was in the right place – delivering a cute flick to convert Slimani's nod-on. Mahrez may not be back to his best but he nearly had a second goal in the second half when cutting across the edge of the box and angling in a shot scrambled clear by Erik Johansson. Claudio Ranieri's decision to start him on the bench at Chelsea last weekend can be said to have paid dividends.
Foxes outfox visitors
The fact Schmeichel had just one serious save to make to leave his compatriots empty-handed tells its own story, particularly with København bossing possession. The English champions were – as many of the FCK squad had happily admitted prior to kick-off – too good, too well-organised for their opponents from Denmark.
Simon Hart, Leicester report (@UEFAcomSimonH)
If ever a team needed the opening goal it was Leicester tonight. They were tentative, disjointed for much of the first half – quite a contrast with the urgent, cohesive side that won the Premier League in May. Those four Premier League defeats have left a dent in their confidence yet they improved as the game went on and now have nine points in Group G – one more than from eight domestic league fixtures – and a foot in the last 16.
Ian Holyman, FCK reporter (@UEFAcomIanH)
This was more than a brave display from København, and they may argue they deserved a point rather than to see their 23-game unbeaten run in competitive games end. The truth, though, is that Leicester never lost control, despite being on the back foot. There is enough to suggest, however, that the return fixture in the Danish capital will be even closer with the Parken crowd behind FCK.