PORTO • Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri said that he is "very, very sad" and accepted blame after his team were thrashed 5-0 by Porto in their final group game of the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Portuguese side eased into the knockout stages after the victory over a hapless second-string Leicester, who suffered the heaviest defeat ever by an English team in the elite competition.
With their qualification as Group G winners assured, the English champions changed 10 of their first-team line-up, leaving their hosts to cash in hungrily with a double from Andre Silva and fine strikes from Jesus Corona, Yacine Brahimi and Diogo Jota.
No English team had suffered such a huge loss in the 61-year annals of the European Cup competition and it was the worst defeat for any Premier League club in continental combat since Everton's 5-0 reverse at Benfica in the 2009-10 Europa League.
Ahead of Manchester City's visit in the Premier League tomorrow, Leicester's Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, Robert Huth and Islam Slimani were among those left at home to stay fresh for the match.
"I wanted to give a great chance to our players but it was too easy for Porto. I am very, very sad," Ranieri said.
Number of years English clubs have played in Europe's premier club competition without having a result as bad as Leicester's 5-0 defeat on Wednesday.
"Okay, we can lose, but not in this way. But the fault is mine, I put all my players out to show what they can do."
Leicester had conceded only one goal in their previously unbeaten first Champions League campaign. But stand-in goalkeeper Ben Hamer became the first English goalkeeper to concede five goals on his Champions League debut.
The best news for the outclassed visitors was that an injury which forced Danny Drinkwater, one of the few first-team regulars on duty, to limp off was said by Ranieri to be not serious.
With Copenhagen winning at Club Brugge in the other group game, Porto finished two points ahead of the Danish side and two adrift of Leicester.
"We all knew about the importance of this game and we did it, we did not fail. We had a good game," said Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS