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Kelechi Iheanacho at the double as Leicester dominate against Braga

Leicester City v Sporting Braga – UEFA Europa League – Group G – King Power Stadium
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Kelechi Iheanacho’s brace kept dominant Leicester on course to reach the Europa League knock-out stages after a crushing 4-0 win over Braga.

The striker’s double helped the Foxes take control of Group G and they sit top, three points clear of Braga, after a third straight win in Europe.

Iheanacho has now scored three times in the campaign as he deputised for Jamie Vardy, with Brendan Rodgers having the luxury of resting his eight-goal top scorer.

Abel Ruiz missed a fine chance to give Braga a lifeline before Dennis Praet and James Maddison wrapped up victory for the Foxes’ biggest European win.

Brendan Rodgers saw his side dominate Braga even without Jamie Vardy

Brendan Rodgers saw his side dominate Braga even without Jamie Vardy (Mike Egerton/PA)

Carlos Carvalhal’s side, expected to be Leicester’s main challengers for top spot, were simply brushed aside and halfway through the stage the Foxes are in pole position to win the group.

With Vardy on the bench, Iheanacho spearheaded the hosts’ attack but it was a low-key start until he opened the scoring after 20 minutes.

Braga, third in the Primeira Liga, were tidy enough and Hamza Choudhury’s early deflected volley was the best Leicester could create until they got a slice of luck to break the deadlock.

Christian Fuchs’ long throw caught Braga napping and Iheanacho swapped quick passes with Maddison to burst through on the right.

He breezed past David Carmo and when the ball ricocheted off goalkeeper Matheus the striker was left with a simple tap in.

It justified Rodgers’ faith in his shadow squad and his decision to give Vardy a break.

But the goal was a rare flashpoint of a forgettable half as the teams often cancelled each other out.

Kasper Schmeichel hastily cleared Choudhury’s stab towards his own goal but, while the visitors threatened to get behind the Foxes, they were well marshalled by the impressive James Justin and Wesley Fofana.

Maddison curled over from distance and he went closer in first-half injury time after an excellent run by Iheanacho.

The striker rode three tackles to find Maddison, who cut inside Bruno Viana, only for Matheus’ fingertips to stop him doubling Leicester’s lead.

Dennis Praet scored Leicester's third goal

Dennis Praet scored Leicester’s third goal (Mike Egerton/PA)

But Iheanacho had no problem making it 2-0 two minutes after the break.

He collected Cengiz Under’s pass – which was originally meant for Maddison – and his shot from 25 yards hit Bruno Viana to deceive Matheus and find the bottom corner.

Braga needed a dramatic improvement and Ruiz nearly gave them a lifeline when he prodded wide with just Schmeichel to beat.

Iheanacho was then denied a hat-trick by Matheus but he turned provider with 23 minutes left.

A slick move involving Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Iheanacho ended with the striker crossing for Praet to convert at the far post.

But Iheanacho was lucky to avoid a red card soon after, escaping with a yellow after raking his studs down Pedro Novais’ leg.

With 12 minutes remaining Maddison made it 4-0 when wriggled past two challenges to score from six yards and Ayoze Perez almost piled more misery on Braga but his deflected header came back off the post.