Thursday 23 March 2017

WATCH - Ahmed Musa shines for Leicester as Barcelona win thriller in Stockholm

Ahmed Musa of Leicester City FC celebrates after scoring to 1-3 during the International Champions Cup match between Leicester City FC and FC Barcelona at Friends arena in Solna, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)
Ahmed Musa of Leicester City FC celebrates after scoring to 1-3 during the International Champions Cup match between Leicester City FC and FC Barcelona at Friends arena in Solna, Sweden. (Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images)

Samuel Stevens

Leicester City may not have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in Stockholm but two second-half goals from £16m signing Ahmed Musa narrowed the margin in a 4-2 defeat by Barcelona.

Two Munir El Haddadi strikes bookended a superb individual effort by Luis Suarez before the break in the Swedish capital as Musa, who joined from CSKA Moscow last month, excelled for the Foxes in the second period before Rafa Mujica’s late goal.

Claudio Ranieri, the Leicester manager, named a decidedly stronger side than the one who suffered a 4-0 reverse to Paris Saint-Germain in Los Angeles last weekend, handing a first appearance of the summer to Jamie Vardy and reuniting Wes Morgan with Robert Huth at the back.

Lionel Messi and Suarez headlined the Barca line-up at the Friends Arena but it was Munir who opened the scoring after a breathless opening 25 minutes. The 20-year-old benefitted from some typically bedazzling play from Messi before being let through by the Argentine to slot past goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler.

Zieler, a new £3.2m signing from Hannover, may have been wishing Ranieri had stuck with Kasper Schmeichel in goal for this International Champions Cup tie when Suarez doubled the Spanish champions’ advantage eight minutes later.

The former Liverpool striker glided past full-back Ben Chilwell before poking home past Zieler from a tight angle to make it three before the interval.

Ranieri will have dreaded a repeat of the morale-sapping debacle against Paris just four days previously in California. The Italian, however, has learned like the rest of the football world not to doubt his intrepid Leicester squad - no matter how tall the odds.

Nigerian international Musa made an immediate impact upon his arrival off the bench. After fleeting glimpses of his frightening turn of pace against both Oxford United and Celtic earlier this summer, the 23-year-old galloped the entire length of Barca’s half before prodding past Jordi Masip in the 46th minute.

He struck again soon after when Jeff Schlupp, subject to continued interest from West Bromwich Albion, gathered a loose ball and set him free in the penalty area. Musa twisted and turned, corkscrewing his body to get a sight of goal, before arrowing it in to restore some pride for the Premier League champions.

Leicester had strong claims for a penalty when Musa was felled by Javier Mascherano in the box but their hopes of rescuing a draw were ended when Mujica pounced six minutes from time.

The youngster’s nonchalant finish applied a touch of gloss to the score-line for Luis Enrique’s men in the latter stages as they now switch their focus to the two-legged Super Cup meeting with Sevilla in just under a fortnight.

For Ranieri and Leicester, however, the Community Shield clash against Manchester United will perhaps seem more attractive than it did at half-time in Stockholm. The Foxes’ campaign in the International Champions Cup has posed uncomfortable questions of their stamina and composure on the world stage.

Nonetheless, Musa’s second-half exploits kept the score respectable and means Leicester's rise continues to fascinate and intrigue the world over.

Independent News Service

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