Porto face The Dragon Slayer again

OLD NEMESIS: During his three seasons with Sporting, Slimani (left, seen here with Manchester United's Eric Bailly) scored six goals against Porto in six appearances, earning him the nickname The Dragon Slayer.


    Sep 27, 2016

    Porto face The Dragon Slayer again


    LEICESTER City may be unfamiliar Champions League opponents for Porto, who visit the King Power Stadium today (tomorrow, 2.45am Singapore time), but Islam Slimani is a player they know all too well.

    During his three seasons with Sporting Lisbon, the Algeria striker scored six goals against Porto in six appearances, earning him the nickname The Dragon Slayer from the Lisbon club's fans.

    Now paired up front with Jamie Vardy for Leicester, he will hope to resume his torment of the Portuguese giants as the English champions play the first home top-tier European game in their 132-year history.

    Leicester broke their transfer record to sign Slimani, 28, from Sporting on transfer deadline day, paying a fee of around £28 million (S$49.3 million).

    But he is every bit as rough-cut as Vardy, who joined Leicester from non-league Fleetwood Town in 2012, or his Algeria teammate Riyad Mahrez, who was signed from French second-tier side Le Havre.

    Slimani was playing in the Algerian fourth division at the age of 21 and did not make the move to Europe until he was 25, joining Sporting from Algiers outfit CR Belouizdad.

    A raw, rangy and technically unrefined target man, he moved to Sporting as back-up for Colombian striker Fredy Montero and was initially used as an impact substitute.

    Gradually, however, he became an integral cog in the Sporting machine and by the time he left the club, he had scored 48 goals in 82 Portuguese league appearances.

    Slimani scored two headed goals - his trademark - in a 3-0 win over Burnley on his league debut, but Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri chose to highlight his defensive contribution.

    "It's the first time the fans have watched him and they saw strong he is and how well he defends," said the Italian, whose side won 3-0 at Club Brugge in their opening Group G fixture.

    "He can press, press, press, all around the pitch."

    Belying his tough-guy image, Slimani wept as he left the pitch following his final Sporting game against Porto.

    But it could be Porto's defenders who have tears in their eyes come Tuesday.