Leicester City completed their preparations for the 2019/20 season in the perfect way with a 2-1 win against UEFA Champions League outfit Atalanta BC at home on Friday evening.
Ayoze Perez, making his first appearance at the King Power Stadium, struck first with a clinical effort into the bottom corner mid-way through the second-half. Jamie Vardy got the second with a similarly razor sharp finish in the 75th minute.
The Serie A side eventually got on the scoresheet late on as Ricardo Pereira gave away a penalty that was duly converted by Luis Muriel. It mattered not though as the Foxes rounded off pre-season with another victory.
Story of the match
Atalanta enjoy early opportunities
Despite being behind their Premier League adversaries in preparations for the new season, Atalanta started the more confident. Robin Gosens twice had attempts, with the first spinning off target before forcing Kasper Schmeichel into a solid stop with a powerful effort.
Eventually, Brendan Rodgers' men did get to grips with the game. Jamie Vardy and Jonny Evans both went close with headers midway through the first-half. The former then had another chance as good work from Perez saw him steal the ball and attempt to feed his strike partner but Pierluigi Gollini produced a good stop to force the ball behind.
Regardless of a relatively low-key first period, the match resumed at a frantic pace. James Maddison at first sent a tempting free-kick into the wall. Caglar Soyuncu, who replaced Harry Maguire in the Leicester side, then had his shot blocked at the back post before substitute Luis Muriel fizzed a low effort just wide.
The quality of the match continued to increase and both goalkeepers had to intervene to keep the scores level. Perez was released in-behind by Youri Tielemans but the Spaniard could not get the better of Gollini one-on-one. Schmeichel then produced another stop of his own to deflect Hans Hateboer's close-range effort away.
Perez announces his arrival
The hosts were not made to wait much longer for an opener however. Following fantastic team play, Perez atoned for his earlier miss as he weaved through the Atalanta defence and finished brilliantly into the bottom corner.
The Foxes then doubled their advantage through Perez's strike partner, Vardy. The striker was played through following a quick throw-in from Christian Fuchs. One-on-one with Gollini, the former England man coolly converted into the bottom corner for his second goal of pre-season.
By this point, Rodgers' troops were putting on a show but did eventually concede as Ricardo Pereira tripped Musa Barrow in the penalty area in the final few minutes. Former Sevilla man Luis Muriel stepped up and sent Schmeichel the wrong way to at least give the Atalanta fans something to celebrate from their trip.
Vardy still as sharp as ever
Now at age 32, it is clear that Jamie Vardy will not be able to rely on his pace forever. However, one thing is clear - his instincts for scoring goals will not diminish. The Leicester no. 9 is again going to lead the line for the Foxes this season and looked a constant menace against Atalanta, even doubling the lead with a predatory finish.
Following 18 Premier League goals last season, he looks set for another fantastic campaign at the King Power Stadium.
European ambitions closer than ever?
Brendan Rodgers has made no secret of his ambitions to bring European football back to the East Midlands and should Leicester continue the kind of performances like those against Atalanta, it should arrive sooner rather than later.
Albeit pre-season, the Foxes overwhelmed their Champions League-bound visitors. If they pick up points against the so-called 'elite' clubs in the Premier League on a consistent basis, they will not be far away from the European positions.
No Maguire distractions
With speculation suggesting that Harry Maguire is edging close to a move to Manchester United, Leicester did not appear to be distracted at all. The Foxes put on a thoroughly professional performance in front of their own supporters and will hope that Maguire's potential move is dealt with quickly to avoid any repercussions.