James Maddison sparkles as stylish Leicester claim biggest European victory

Leicester’s season collapsed last term as their resources were stretched but they appear to have more strength this time around.

The Foxes were able to leave top scorer Jamie Vardy on the bench for this tie but still claimed a stylish victory – their biggest in Europe.

Replacement Kelechi Iheanacho scored in either half with eight-goal Vardy in the stands for the hosts, who are a point off the top of the Premier League.

James Maddison also impressed on his return to the side with a late goal after being a sub in second-placed Leicester’s 4-1 win at Leeds.

Maddison did not make the new England squad but underlined his class here as he teed up the opener.

The star also went close to scoring himself and appears close to his best after missing the run-in last term with a hip injury as Brendan Rodgers’ side lost three of their last four games to blow the top four.

Deputising for Vardy, Iheanacho scored a double

Maddison’s sparkle on fireworks night lit up Leicester’s display but it was Iheanacho who provided the early bangs.

They completed the romp late on as Iheanacho squared the ball for sub Dennis Praet to net before Maddison side-footed in.

And if Leicester were disappointed to end up in the Europa League rather than the Champions League, then they definitely appear over it now after three successive wins in the competition.

Carlos Carvahal’s Braga arrived after winning their past six games to be third in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.

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But the visitors were second best from the start as Leicester opened the scoring in the 20 minute.

Christian Fuchs created the danger with a long throw to release Iheanacho.

The Nigerian striker then swapped passes with Maddison on the edge of the box before tapping in from close-range after keeper Matheus could only parry his initial angled effort.

Leicester went close to doubling their lead in the 32 minute when Maddison whistled a right-foot shot just over.

Maddison was then denied by Braga keeper Matheus before the break by a superb one-handed stop.

Matheus was powerless to stop Leicester doubling their lead in the 47 minute though.

Rodgers will have been delighted with his much-changed side

Iheanacho let fly from distance with a left-foot shot on the turn which deflected off Viana and left the Braga keeper wrong-footed.

Ex-Manchester City striker Iheanacho had a further chance to complete a hat-trick minutes later but this time Matheus did deny him.

He then unselfishly teed up sub Praet to tap into an empty net.

But it was virtually Iheanacho’s last action he was soon subbed after being fortunate to escape a red for taking out Joao Novais.

Maddison made it 4-0 in the 78th minute with a low left-foot finish after turning in the box.

Player Ratings

Leicester (3-4-2-1): Schmeichel 7; Justin 7, Fofana 8, Fuchs 7; Albrighton (Morgan 62,n6), Tielemans 7 (Barnes 72, 6), Choudhury 7, Thomas 7; Under 6 (Praet 62, 7), Maddison 8; Iheanacho 8 (Perez 72,)

Unused subs: Ward, Jakupovic, Vardy, Mendy, Fitzhugh, Leshabela

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Braga (4-3-3): Matheus 6; Esgaio 6, Viana 5, Carmo 6, Silva 5; Horta 6 (Medeiros 62, 6), Musrati 6, Novais 6; Paulinho 5 (Gaitan 71, 6), Ruiz 5, Galeno 5 (Moura 71, 5)

Unused subs: Sa, Santos, Carlos, Tormena, Sequeira, Rolando, Infande, Castro, Guilherme

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