Leicester City

Leicester 2-0 Rennes: Player ratings as Foxes seal first leg victory

Craig Vickers
Albrighton opened the scoring
Albrighton opened the scoring / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Leicester took control of their Europa Conference League last 16 tie against Rennes as goals from Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheanacho secured a 2-0 first leg victory for Brendan Rodgers' side.

It was the visitors, whose previous trip to England this season was cut short by a Covid-19 outbreak at Tottenham, who came out of the traps quicker. Gaëtan Laborde swivelled in the penalty area and turned Adrien Truffert's cross inches wide with the contest just four minutes old.

A previously parsimonious Leicester defence has tightened up in recent weeks, although they were indebted to Benjamin Bourigeaud when the winger was caught in two minds inside the danger area after the tricky Jeremy Doku skipped past three Leicester challenges.

The Foxes then took the lead on the evening when Marc Albrighton smashed home on 29 minutes. Harvey Barnes, playing on the fringes until that point, took down a Caglar Soyuncu pass before ghosting past Hamari Traore at the byline. His cut-back trickled to the edge of the penalty area where Albrighton raced in to lash a thunderous effort into the roof of the net.

Rennes had a glimpse at goal on the stroke of the interval to level proceedings, but Jonas Martin blazed over inside the penalty area.

Doku then reminded Leicester of his threat minutes into the second period when he flashed a delicious cross across goal, only for those of a Rennes persuasion in the penalty area to be caught ball-watching.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall called Alfred Gomis in the Rennes goal into action in the 55th minute when he collected an Albrighton cross from the right hand. His resulting effort, however, lacked purchase while on the half-turn.

The Foxes remained a considerable threat on the counter-attack with Barnes' blistering pace. The winger teed up Dewsbury-Hall on 67 minutes, although the midfielder could not sort his feet out before firing his effort into a crowd of bodies.

Rennes fashioned their best opening of the game with 18 minutes remaining. The Ligue 1 outfit cut Leicester open through the middle before Martin Terrier was released in behind, but Kasper Schmeichel was equal to the forward's effort down low.

As the French side pushed for a leveller to take into the second leg next week, it was Leicester who delivered the fatal blow when Kelechi Iheanacho curled home in stoppage time to double the Foxes' advantage in the tie.

Here's how Leicester rated on the evening.

Leicester player ratings

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Luke Thomas
Thomas in action / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Kasper Schmeichel (GK) - 6/10 - Had very little to contend with until he was prompted into a fine stop by Terrier in the second half.

James Justin (RB) - 8/10 -
With Albrighton stretching the pitch, he tended to operate infield in a role more familiar with Trent Alexander-Arnold when the Foxes had the ball.

Daniel Amartey (CB) - 6/10 -
Very assured performance, maintaining his aggression throughout to stifle Rennes' central threats.

Caglar Soyuncu (CB) - 9/10 -
Arguably his most impressive performance of the season, cutting Rennes open with his lofted diagonal passes time and again.

Luke Thomas (LB) - 6/10 -
A few nervy moments against the explosive Jeremy Doku in the opening exchanges, but he recovered to produce a very strong performance.

2. Midfielders

Youri Tielemans
Tielemans on the ball / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

Wilfried Ndidi (CM) - 7/10 - The assurance he brings to the Leicester midfield is difficult to quantify, but his influence on the game was apparent to anyone watching.

Youri Tielemans (CM) - 6/10 -
His decision making in the final third was lacking, but he slowly looks to be rediscovering his confidence.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (CM) - 7/10 -
Showed his dancing feet on a number of occasions, often exploiting the inside channel when Barnes pulled out to the touchline.

3. Forwards

Marc Albrighton (RW) - 7/10 - Thunderous strike to open the scoring for Leicester, marking a performance of selfless running and nice combination play.

Patson Daka (ST) - 4/10 - Worked tirelessly, stretching the Rennes defence at every opportunity, but he had very few sightings of goal.

Harvey Barnes (LW) - 8/10 - Frustrating during the opening exchanges, but the burst of pace he showed to ghost past his marker and tee up Albrighton was electrifying.

4. Substitutes

Kelechi Iheanacho (ST) - 7/10 - Took his goal extremely well to double Leicester's lead in the tie.

Hamza Choudhury (RB) - 5/10 - Offered greater defensive solidity on the right hand side.

James Maddison (CM) - N/A

Ademola Lookman (LW) - N/A