Leicester City

Patson Daka proved he is Jamie Vardy's successor in dominant Europa League display

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Daka and Iheanacho formed a dangerous partnership
Daka and Iheanacho formed a dangerous partnership / NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/GettyImages
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When Patson Daka struck home his fourth goal in Leicester's 4-3 Europa League win over Spartak Moscow, his face lit up with a smile that was enough to warm the hearts of the hardy few Foxes fans who travelled to the Russian capital - even if it was four degrees and snowing.

The terrific four goals capped off a life-changing few days for Daka, who became the first Zambian to score a Premier League goal against Manchester United on Saturday.

After notching his maiden strike in a blue shirt he said: “It still feels like a dream, and I don’t want to wake up! I’m just so excited and happy that I got to open my scoring account with this club, and I look forward to many more.

“I was just praying that I shouldn’t make any mistake because it’s so crazy. I had to concentrate fully and I managed to score, which was very important.

“It was really important for me, for my confidence, but also for the team. It was a very crazy game, very intense against a tough opponent, and it’s all because of the support that I received from my teammates, from the coaching staff, and everyone at the club, including the fans. To get the goal, it gives me an extra boost for my confidence.”

It is humble and lovable declarations like this, as well as that damn smile, that have already established him as somewhat of a cult hero at the King Power Stadium.

Despite the love that Leicester fans have felt for their number 29 from the outset, he has endured a frustrating time of it on the pitch for his new side. Thanks to Jamie Vardy's goal record, Kelechi Iheanacho's performances and Brendan Rodgers' early-season tactical inflexibility, Daka has enjoyed just 39 minutes of league action so far.

Prior to his one-man tear-up in Moscow, the Europa League had also proved a harsh mistress. Daka was bright against Napoli but had a maiden goal chalked off for offside on matchday one. Two weeks later he had an even worse time, banging his head against the metaphorical wall repeatedly in a 1-0 defeat to Legia Warsaw.

In the first half against Spartak there was a feeling that Daka would be frustrated again. Early on, he had a strong shout for a penalty turned down and was also denied by some last-ditch defending on more than one occasion.

However, likely energised by his first Premier League goal at the weekend, Daka was not taking no for an answer this time, smashing down Spartak's door less than 60 seconds after Leicester had gone 2-0 down in Moscow.

After spending the entire opening period prowling on the shoulder of the last man, he was finally released by Iheanacho. Latching onto his mate's dinked through pass, Spartak keeper Aleksandr Maksimenko got a hand to Daka's effort but it wasn't enough, with the ball trickling into the back of the net.

This was the stroke of good fortune that Daka's tireless hard work deserved and it proved to be the ignitor for one of the all-time great Europa League performances.

Goal number two came just over two minutes after the break with Iheanacho racing onto Luke Thomas' inch-perfect pass and laying it on a plate for his strike partner. It did not take long for him to complete his hat trick either with Daka collecting another through ball - this time from Youri Tielemans - and firing a precise left-footed finish into the bottom corner.

FBL-EUR-C3-SPARTAK-LEICESTER
His manager will be very pleased with his display / NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/GettyImages

Things got even better before the end too, with Daka's fourth strike - a near carbon copy of the third but with extra Boubakary Soumare heroics - making him Leicester's joint all-time top scorer in Europa League football. Not a bad night's work.

After the game, Daka admitted that he was loving life in the city, telling BT Sport; "There is nothing to hate about Leicester! The people are great and the team is great."

Foxes fans are equally enamoured with the free-scoring frontman and with Vardy not getting any younger, having a striker capable of racing in behind, pressing like a maniac and finishing without a care in the world, is a huge boost for the club's future prospects.


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