Leicester City's Achievement Moves Beyond Description With 2-0 Win Over Sevilla
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Leicester City have defeated Sevilla 3-2 on aggregate (2-0 on the night) to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals behind goals from Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton. Sevilla had Samir Nasri sent off in the 74th, a penalty saved by Kasper Schmeichel in the 80th and were ultimately left to rue their wastefulness in the first leg. This was Leicester's night.
Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare sent out the same XI that had defeated Liverpool and Hull City in his first two games in charge, Shinji Okazaki being the main beneficiary of the managerial change.
The match could’ve started disastrously if Schmeichel didn’t pick up right where he left off in the first leg, using his left hand to save an attempt from Nasri in the 4th minute and turn it behind for a corner.
Leicester let Sevilla have more of the ball in the opening 25 minutes, as is their modus operandi, but the Foxes looked much more comfortable than they had in Seville, even stringing together a few passes of their own.
In the 27th minute, the moment of magic that the King Power Stadium had wishfully dreamed of actually arrived, and it involved three of the side’s key performers. Jamie Vardy won a free kick just outside the area, Riyad Mahrez whistled in a swinging set piece that evaded everyone and struck Wes Morgan at the far post.
The Jamaican defender somehow managed to bundle the ball over the line with his knee, putting Leicester on their way to the quarterfinals by virtue of away goals.
Leicester saw out the half largely untroubled, and the onus was now firmly on Sevilla to turn the match on its head with a goal of their own. Jorge Sampaoli threw on Stevan Jovetic and Mariano, and Sevilla almost got their goal eight minutes later.
A dipping and swerving effort from Sergio Escudero from 30 yards out crashed against the underside of the crossbar with Schmeichel beaten. As the King Power was still steadying its nerves following that shot, Leicester went down the other end and grabbed their second.
A cross from Mahrez was cleared by Adil Rami, but it fell to Albrighton. The midfielder took a touch and fired home only his second goal of the season.
It was a composed finish from Albrighton, and his teammates mirrored that certainty over the next 20 minutes. Unfortunately for Sevilla, they had one player completely lose the plot in the 74th minute.
Nasri had been booked in the 18th minute for a needlessly cynical challenge. In the 74th, Vardy gave him a little push in the back and then a little shove. Nasri reacted by walking up to Vardy and the two came face-to-face. Nasri moved his head towards him, Vardy may or may not have done the same, but the England forward reacted theatrically to the head-butt. Nasri was sent off with a second yellow, although it took a minute or two to get him off the pitch.
With everything going Leicester’s way, Sevilla worked an 80th minute reprieve when Schmeichel brought down Vitolo in the box. However, for the second time in this dramatic round of 16 tie, Schmeichel managed to save the Sevilla spot kick.
To make matters worse, Sampaoli, fresh off a touchline ban, was sent to the stands for his behavior. Jamie Vardy had two opportunities to complete the job for Leicester, but he had a header saved and spooned a clear opportunity over the bar.
But Leicester protected their advantage, and the final whistle was greeted with a roar that’ll certainly register on earthquake-detecting equipment.
Leicester City will now join Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus in the quarterfinals. Ah huh.