Leicester advances in FA Cup as Mahrez returns, stars

Martin Rickett/PA via AP
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By many accounts, Riyad Mahrez was not just back to his fine-playing ways in his King Power Stadium return on Friday but a veritable Man of the Match.

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Leicester knocked Sheffield United out of the FA Cup and moved into the quarterfinals on a Jamie Vardy goal, but it was their Algerian wizard pulling the strings in his first home match since Deadline Day drama saw him leave the team.

Foxes boss Claude Puel has talked up Mahrez since early in his tenure at King Power, and hasn’t stopped just because the player is unsettled. From the BBC:

“The most important thing in the game was the fans supported Riyad and when I replaced him, it was a good feeling with the fans. It’s important to stay united about this, it’s a good thing and we can move on.

“The situation is behind us, it’s important to look forward. Now we have two home games in the Premier League and it’s important to get the support of the fans. We need to come back in the Premier League with conviction.”

Seventh place in the Premier League and a possible spot in the Europa League remain possible for the Foxes, who are just a point behind Burnley and reasonably sizing up Everton as a more legit combatant for the slot.

An FA Cup win would be another route to Europe, and many of the Foxes are still quite familiar with giant killing. Mahrez being committed and back in the picture could be huge.