Great Britain

LEICESTER 3 ZORYA 0: Barnes inspires Foxes to easy victory to show there’s goals without Vardy

THEY were the last English team standing in the Champions League four years ago.

And Leicester took the first steps towards another healthy run in Europe last night with a comfortable win over a feeble team from Ukraine.

James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho were on target for manager Brendan Rodgers, who believes his team could do some major damage in the competition this season.

While Spurs and Arsenal are also involved in the Europa League, Leicester could once again be this country’s dark horses.

As the champions of England, Leicester beat Sevilla in the last 16 of the 2016-17 Champions League only to bow out to Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals.

With Zorya, AEK Athens and Sporting Braga their group opponents, it seems unthinkable that Leicester will not make it into the group stages.

Jamie Vardy, struggling with a calf problem, was saved for Sunday’s Premier League game with Arsenal.

But Leicester still had more than enough firepower even though they did not need to be anywhere near at their best.

Zorya finished third in their League last season and are playing in the Europa League for the seventh successive year

And they caused a few early problems with Maksym Lunov looking particularly dangerous. He created a terrific chance for Vladyslav Kabayev but Kasper Schmeichel did well to block the shot.

Leicester took a while to wake up and when James Maddison put the ball in the net with a silky finish, he was miles offside.

His next chance was certainly less pleasing on the eye but at least this one counted.

Barnes’ curling shot hit the bar, Iheanacho attempted to bundle in the rebound and after a brief scramble, Maddison got the final touch with the side of his boot.

While winger Barnes was then denied by a decent save from the visiting keeper, he got the goal he fully deserved just before the break.

Iheanacho showed good strength and link-up play before Barnes took over, the Zorya defence fell to pieces and the newly-capped England player sauntered through on goal before flicking the ball over keeper Mykyta Shevchenko.

With one eye on Sunday, Rodgers withdrew Maddison and a couple of minutes later, Iheanacho drilled the ball into the corner for the third after a shocking mistake from Dmytro Ivanisenia.

French referee Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to take charge of a game at this level in England, although she did referee last season’s Uefa Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea in Istanbul.

While Zorya screamed for a penalty with 10 minutes remaining, claiming sub Mihailo Perovic had been fouled by Jonny Evans, Frappart was having none of it.

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