Leicester started their Europa League campaign with a comfortable victory over Zorya Luhansk in the opening game of Group G.

The Foxes were playing their first game in European competition since 2017 when they were knocked out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage to Atletico Madrid.

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James Maddison - making just his second start of the season - scored on his European debut to give Leicester lift-off in the 29th minute, somewhat against the run of play.

Kasper Schmeichel had denied Vladyslav Kabaiev at point-blank range as the visitors bossed the early proceedings, and Maddison then pounced to scramble home the opener after Harvey Barnes had struck the post.

Zorya committed numbers in attack and had their moments in the first period but found themselves two behind at the break, as Barnes slalomed through the defence and lifted it over goalkeeper Mykyta Shevchenko on the stroke of half time.

Leicester were much improved after the restart and after peppering the visitors' goal, Kelechi Iheanacho added to his two assists with a third to put the game beyond Zorya in the 67th-minute.

Victory means Leicester top the group as they turn their attentions to a trip to Arsenal on Sunday night in the Premier League.

TALKING POINT - Leicester ease to victory on European return

Leicester came into the game off the back of three consecutive home defeats, and they made a painfully slow start to proceedings here. They were fortunate not to be trailing when Maddison gave them the lead against the run of play.

That gave them a platform to build on, with Barnes providing the spark in attack in the absence of the injured Jamie Vardy. The Foxes were dominant after the restart, creating a number of chances whilst playing the kind of swashbuckling football witnessed in the 5-2 victory over Manchester City last month.

They're off the mark in Group G with three goals and a clean-sheet, and with this performance Leicester will be confident of going far in the Europa League. Sterner tests await, of course, but having played four games in this competition without victory, it also gets the monkey off their back.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Harvey Barnes (Leicester)

Iheanacho led the line brilliantly, but Barnes was the standout player. With his direct running, pace, close control and skill, he caused havoc on the left flank.

PLAYER RATINGS

Leicester: Schmeichel 6, Castagne 6, Fofana 7, Evans 6, Fuchs 6, Mendy 6, Tielemans 6, Praet 6, Barnes 9, Maddison 8, Iheanacho 8.. subs: Justin N/A, Morgan N/A, Perez 5, Under 5, Choudhury 5.

Zorya: Shevchenko 5, Khomchenovskiy 5, Cvek 5, Vernydub 5, Favorov 5, Kochergin 5, Ivanisenia 5, Nazaryna 5, Kabayev 5, Yurchenko 6, Lunov 5.. subs: Rufati 5, Perovic 5, Gladkiyy 5, Ciganiks 5.

KEY MOMENTS

22' - Zorya should be ahead! Schmeichel is off his line quickly to make a superb save with his feet to deny Kabaiev from point-blank range! He was on the stretch to meet Favorov's squared pass but still should have scored.

29' - GOAL! Leicester 1-0 Zorya (James Maddison): Leicester lead, somewhat against the run of play! Iheanacho feeds Barnes, who opens his body and curls a lovely shot against the post. Zorya can't clear, there's a goal-mouth scramble and Maddison pounces to score on his European debut!

45' - GOAL! Leicester 2-0 Zorya (Harvey Barnes): Barnes gets the goal he deserves! He races onto Iheanacho's back-heeled pass, Maddison comes together with the Zorya defender and gives his team mate a clear path to goal. With just the keeper to beat, he lifts it over him for a very cool second.

67' - GOAL! Leicester 3-0 Zorya (Kelechi Iheanacho): That will do it! He has the goal to add to his two assists! Zorya concede possession as they try to play it out from the back and Leicester profit. Iheanacho holds the ball up brilliantly, turns and fires past Shevchenko. Game over!

KEY STATS

  • James Maddison has scored twice in his last three appearances in all competitions, as many as in his previous 25 games for Leicester City.
  • Leicester's Kelechi Iheanacho has become the first Nigerian to assist two goals in a single UEFA Europa League game.
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