Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri believes Riyad Mahrez’s two goals in the Champions League win over Club Brugge proves the Algerian has rediscovered his form.
The winger scored twice in Wednesday’s impressive 3-0 win at Club Brugge as the Foxes marked their debut in the competition with a stunning victory.
Mahrez scored a brilliant free-kick and a second half penalty to seal the three points in Group G after Marc Albrighton had opened the scoring on five minutes.
Algerian Mahrez has suffered a slow start to the season after 17 goals last term propelled Leicester to the Premier League title and won him the PFA Player of the Year award.
Ranieri admitted he wanted record signing Islam Slimani to take the spot-kick, after Jamie Vardy was fouled by Ludovic Butelle – but is pleased Mahrez is back on track.
“If he doesn’t score I take the neck and I crush the neck,” he joked. “He took the responsibility.
“I tried to say Slimani because he is a penalty scorer but he (Mahrez) has the personality to choose. He was a lucky man.
“Maybe the music woke him up. Maybe he is very tired of listening to dilly-ding, dilly-dong and prefers the Champions League music! He was very good.”
Albrighton scored after Jose Izquierdo blew the hosts’ best chance just two minutes into the contest when the striker shot wide with only Kasper Schmeichel to beat.
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Ranieri admitted the game would have changed had the Colombian scored but dismissed any suggestions Leicester had it easy at the Jan Breydel Stadium.
He added: “It was never easy, if they score at the beginning it changes the face of the match. Against Brugge there was a team who wanted to react after the bad defeat and it was difficult for everyone.
“It’s a big test against everyone because with Rostov we are the only two teams never to play in the Champions League.
“If we don’t achieve the first two positions we’ll go in the Europa League, that’s our desire to continue in Europe although the Champions League is better.
“Now we play the first match, there are another five. They tried to find a right solution but it was very difficult. It was good for us to start our story with a victory.”
Brugge, now bottom of Group G, hit the post through Abdoulay Diaby when they were 3-0 down and boss Michel Preud’homme criticised his side.
He said: “Football is simple, to win a game you have to score goals and not concede too much.
“We failed because after two minutes we could have scored and the game was totally different. We have to perform better defensively and offensively if we want to win that kind of game.”