Foxes 4 Braga 0
Match report by Graham Tracey
We continued our memorable working week with another dismantling of well-regarded opposition, to finish the first half of the group stage with maximum points, and barring disaster a safe passage into the knock-out stages.
We showed plenty of pyrotechnics on Bonfire Night, and with key players like Vardy and Mendy given a rest we can lick our lips at the chance of going into the international break top of the league on Sunday.
Braga are unbeaten in the Portuguese league to date, but the gulf between their domestic standard and the English top flight was clear to see. While they pressed energetically in the first half and did have a few moments where dangerous balls were played in, Kasper did not have to make a meaningful save on his 34th birthday.
It was another successful night for the makeshift defence that played at Leeds, reflecting the unusual balance of the old (30+) and young (23-) across the team. James Justin was excellent, and Luke Thomas had his most comfortable run out in the first team. Hamza was excellent in midfield, not just disruptively but on the ball as well.
James Maddison played the full 90 minutes, which seemed to be a pre-meditated plan to show he could last a full game, but as against the Ukrainians he came in for worrying rough treatment, and was nearly forced off early with a dead leg after a deliberate tactical foul. He was easily the most creative player on the pitch and was involved in most of the key moments.
Our first goal led from a smart long throw from Fuchs, resulting in Iheanacho playing a one-two with Madders and then another one-two off the keeper to allow him to tap in from what initially seemed an impossible position. Just before half-time he returned the favour with a mazy run to release Madders, but the keeper kept the game alive going into the break with a superb low save.
I love seeing the renaissance of a player seemingly with nothing to offer the club, and Kelechi’s story over the past 12 months reminds me of the late revival of less talented strikers like Trevor Benjamin and Mark De Vries. In the doomsday scenario of a long-term injury to Vards, his form is absolutely crucial.
Braga’s reprieve did not last long, as within minutes of the restart Iheanacho doubled our lead, turning and striking from outside the box with the help of a deflection. In fact we enjoyed the run of the ball for all four goals – I hope we haven’t used up too much luck when we didn’t need it.
The Nigerian was desperate for a hattrick, and having already been denied one-on-one, he tried to drive a left-footed shot into the far corner, only for the scuffed effort to turn into a perfect pass for substitute Praet to finish.
Braga’s heads were down by now, but our hunger was undiminished, and another substitute Perez (the only member of our squad who is under-achieving this season) showed nimble footwork to tee up Madders, who danced through the defence with the help of a ricochet to round off proceedings.
We saw how quickly momentum can turn in football last season, as we enjoyed another memorable autumn, but with so many strong players to return by Christmas I am upwardly revising my somewhat lukewarm expectations for this season by the match!
FOXES: Schmeichel 7, Albrighton 7, Thomas 7, Fofana 8, Justin 8, Fuchs 7, Tielemans 7, Choudhury 8, Under 7, Maddison 9, Iheanacho 9. Subs: Morgan, Praet, Perez, Barnes
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation