FC Porto 5:0 Leicester City
Group G winners Leicester were humbled by Porto at the Estádio do Dragão on Wednesday night, a much-changed side losing 5-0…
Although City’s final group game was a dead rubber, there were eyebrows raised among City fans around Porto when ten changes were made to Claudio Ranieri’s side.
The City manager told reporters he wanted the chance to look at his back-up players and also rest most of the first team for the visit of Manchester City.
But it was disappointing for those who had spent a lot and time and money travelling to Portugal for what looked like a nailed-on defeat.
Sure enough, City were camped in their own third from very early on. Hamer had to make his first save from Brahimi after five minutes.
A minute later the Dragons took the lead, when poor marking from Schlupp allowed Silva to nod in a corner from 8 yards.
The result was never in any doubt after that. Three minutes later Jota sent a shot on the run narrowly wide of the left hand post.
After more pressure City conceded a second in the 26th minute. Telles swung a cross in from the left and an unmarked Corona had plenty of time to line up a fine volley into the top right hand corner.
With Porto keeper Casillas hardly getting a touch, the home side continued to press forward. Following off-target efforts from Brahimi and Torres, the third goal arrived in the 44th minute. Periera got round City’s back-line down the right and delivered a low cross that was met by Brahimi’s near post back-heel past Hamer.
Ranieri made two changes at half time with Musa and Schlupp replaced by Ulloa and Albrighton, and there was an immediate improvement.
Albrighton sent a cross over for Okazaki, who couldn’t get decent contact with a header, before Gray attempted a curling shot that went a couple of yards wide.
Drinkwater then crossed for Okazaki, who saw his header from 10 yards out saved by Casillas.
Thoughts of any kind of Leicester fight-back were dispelled in the 64th minute, when the ref spotted Drinkwater tugging Silva’s arm in the area and he pointed to the spot.
Silva himself, a Leicester target last summer, stepped up and sent Hamer the wrong way to make it 4-0.
Soon after this City’s night got even worse when Drinkwater went down with what looked like a knee injury. After some lengthy treatment he played on for a short while before being replaced by development squad player Harvey Barnes, who contributed well during his short debut.
City’s goal difference was reduced to +1 in the 77th minute when Jota danced through the defence with ease before firing Porto’s fifth through Hamer’s legs.
City best chance arrived in the 88th minute when an Ulloa header from a corner was blocked by a defender. The loose ball fell for the Argentinian again, but his shot shaved the crossbar and there was nothing for City’s large following to cheer.
The final whistle was a blessed relief, with City’s 5-0 defeat being a record for an English side in the Champions League.
Claudio Ranieri commented: “I wanted to give a great chance to our players but it was too easy for Porto. I am very, very sad. OK, we can lose, but not in this way. The fault is mine, I put all my players out to show what they can do. The result is my fault, it is important to be clear about this.”
If Ranieri was looking for players who could be brought into the first team, possibly with the African Nations Cup exodus in mind, what he saw may have sent a chill up his spine.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that, despite this sad last chapter, City topped Group G with a game to spare and it was a fabulous adventure…
Porto: Casillas, Maxi Pereira, Marcano, Brahimi, Andre Silva (Rui Pedro 78), Alex Telles, Corona (Herrera 76), Diogo Jota, Danilo (Reuben Neves 76), Felipe, Oliver Torres. Subs Not Used: Jose Sa, Noly, Evandro, Layun.
Leicester: Hamer, Hernández, Wasilewski, Morgan, Chilwell, Gray, Mendy, Drinkwater (Barnes 76), Schlupp (Albrighton 46), Okazaki, Musa (Ulloa 46). Subs Not Used: Amartey, Simpson, Zieler, Fuchs.
Referee: Felix Zwayer. Attendance: 39,310.
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