James Maddison’s quickfire double seals Leicester’s easy route past Randers | Europa Conference League

Harvey Barnes struck early on before James Maddison added a second-half brace as Leicester eased into the Europa Conference League last 16 with a 7-2 aggregate win over Randers.

Leicester’s 4-1 victory at the King Power Stadium a week ago meant their Danish opponents were second favourites to advance and the Foxes swelled their lead even further within two minutes of the second leg getting under way.

Barnes, one of four changes Brendan Rodgers made following Sunday’s defeat to Wolves, opened the scoring and Maddison twice curled home from outside the box after the interval in his side’s comfortable 3-1 away win.

Brendan Rodgers was satisfied with the display in wintery conditions from his side, who have slipped to 12th in the Premier League standings having failed to win any of their top-flight games in 2021. He added that Jamie Vardy is “not too far away” from a return following injury.

“In European football or the Premier League there’s moments in the game where you have to defend,” Rodgers said. “We got exactly the start we wanted, Harvey scored a great goal so that gives us comfort in the game.

“I thought our ball possession wasn’t so good in the first half, the pitch was difficult but I thought the boys were much better in the second half in dealing with that aspect of it.

“Kasper made two great saves. It was just unfortunate it bobbles up on the pitch and we concede the goal. But overall, two good legs and into the next round. You’re in this competition so you want to go as far as you can.”

Randers spurned several chances to make the contest a more even affair – at least on the night – but were gifted a consolation when Stephen Odey capitalised on a rare mistake from Kasper Schmeichel six minutes from time.

Schmeichel made several important saves before a back pass bobbled on him and his mis-control allowed Odey in late on but the midlands club kept alive their last remaining hope of silverware in this campaign.

Barnes – who came back into the reckoning alongside Maddison, Jannik Vestergaard and Kelechi Iheanacho – made an immediate impact in wintery conditions.

Collecting the ball on halfway, the England winger went unchallenged as he hurried forward into the box and the lack of challenges meant he was allowed to pick his spot, curling delightfully into the corner after 100 seconds.

That was not a prelude to the floodgates opening, though, as Randers, who sit sixth in the Danish top-flight, reacted well to falling further behind in the tie.

Schmeichel made a crucial block to deny Odey, while Bjorn Kopplin, Tosin Kehinde and Vito Hammershøy-Mistrati were all off-target when well-placed as Leicester were let off on a few occasions.

Shortly after the resumption led to the ball being squared to Odey and although he did not get the best connection, his scuffed shot was still destined for the top corner only for Schmeichel to paw the effort over.

Randers were then made to pay for their profligacy in the 70th minute when Maddison expertly found the top-corner with a 25-yard free-kick, which left goalkeeper Patrik Carlgren motionless on his line.

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Maddison extended the lead even further four minutes later when he bent home from a similar position, this time in open play, following a fluid move from Leicester, making sure they ended a run of four straight away defeats.

That was not in danger when Odey belatedly got on the scoresheet after some help from the pitch led to Schmeichel faltering which only removed a small amount of gloss to proceedings as Leicester ultimately cruised through.

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