Legia Warsaw 1-0 Leicester: Emreli downs Foxes to open up Group C lead
Mahir Emreli's first-half strike edged Legia Warsaw to a 1-0 win over Leicester in Thursday's Europa League clash.
Emreli drilled home what proved to be the winner at the Polish Army Stadium after 31 minutes, with the visitors having struggled to settle defensively in the opening stages of the game.
Ayoze Perez, who spurned the best first-half chance to equalise, saw his close-range finish ruled out after the interval and Jannik Vestergaard almost scored, but Brendan Rodgers' side failed to find an equaliser.
Leicester now have just one point after their opening two games, while Legia sit at the summit after back-to-back wins in Group C.
Andre Martins curled the first chance of the contest into Kasper Schmeichel's hands following timid defending from Caglar Soyuncu, the centre-back then allowing Bartosz Slisz to sneak in and tee up Emreli, who wastefully blasted over from close range.
However, the forward made no mistake with his next opportunity. Having outmuscled Daniel Amartey, Emreli fired in a left-footed strike across Schmeichel, the ball going in off the far post.
Having dragged a glorious chance wide before the break, Perez thought he had equalised in the second half as he flicked home from Youri Tielemans' corner, only for Amartey to be adjudged to have fouled Ihor Kharatin in the build-up.
Patson Daka's header then forced Cezary Miszta into a smart save before Vestergaard inexplicably managed to head into the Legia goalkeeper's midriff from point-blank range.
Leicester persisted in search of a late leveller, with Daka hesitating in front of goal as he struggled to sort his feet.
Substitute James Maddison offered a late scare as he saw a miscued left-footed strike cleared off the line by Mateusz Wieteska, but Legia managed to cling on to claim all three points.
What does it mean? Legia march on as Leicester struggle
Legia beat Spartak Moscow 1-0 in their Group C opener and made it two from two by defeating the Foxes, in the process gaining an early advantage in the battle to qualify.
The Polish side have lost just one of their last seven at home in the group stages of the Europa League, going down in October 2015 to Napoli, who perhaps surprisingly lost to Spartak in the second round of fixtures.
Maik Nawrocki was outstanding as part of a three-man defence that thwarted Daka, Perez and also late substitute Jamie Vardy.
The centre-back won both of his duels, completed 86.7 per cent of his attempted passes and produced game-high figures for both clearances (five) and interceptions (three), level with his captain, Artur Jedrzejczyk.
Boubakary Soumare failed to step up in the absence of Wilfred Ndidi, simply unable to dictate proceedings while offering little protection for his defence.
The midfielder won just two of his six duels and gave away possession a team-high 20 times in a timid showing for Leicester.
Key Opta facts
- Polish sides have won their last three home meetings with English clubs, with Lech Poznan beating Manchester City in November 2010 and Wisla Krakow getting the better of Fulham in October 2011.
- Having kept a clean sheet in their first two matches this season, Leicester have managed just one in their last eight games in all competitions.
- Leicester have won just one of their past nine away games in all European competitions (D3 L5). The Foxes have failed to score on six occasions in that run, including the last three in a row.
- Emreli became the first Azerbaijani player to score a Europa League goal for a team not based in Azerbaijan (excluding own goals).
- Emreli's opener was his first ever Europa League goal, coming in his 18th appearance in the competition.
Leicester return to Premier League action on Sunday when they travel to Crystal Palace, while Legia visit Lechia Gdansk on the same day.