Leicester City’s remarkable renaissance under Craig Shakespeare continued as Kasper Schmeichel’s late penalty save preserved a 2-0 win over 10-man Sevilla and a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Schmeichel had kept the Foxes alive with a string of saves in the first leg, including from a Joaquin Correa spot-kick, and Jamie Vardy’s goal in the 2-1 defeat – which proved to be Claudio Ranieri’s last game in charge – provided hope coming into Tuesday’s meeting at the King Power Stadium, where the momentum from subsequent back-to-back domestic wins was continued here in dramatic fashion.
Wes Morgan’s scrappy effort just prior to the half-hour put the Premier League champions ahead via the away-goals rule, before Marc Albrighton’s low drive had them 3-2 up on aggregate.
Sevilla, Europa League winners in each of the past three seasons, played the final 15 minutes a man light after Samir Nasri was shown a second yellow card for an altercation with Vardy but the visitors only needed one goal to force extra time.
And, with 10 minutes to go, Schmeichel’s foul on Vitolo presented the Spanish side with the perfect opportunity to salvage a lifeline, only for the Dane to redeem himself from Steven N’Zonzi’s weak effort, while Sevilla’s frustrations were summed up when livewire coach Jorge Sampaoli was sent to the stands late on.
HE’S DONE IT AGAIN!
— Leicester City (@LCFC) March 14, 2017
Victory for Leicester makes it three wins out of three under the guidance of Shakespeare – this his first outing since it was formally announced he would lead the team for the remainder of the season following Ranieri’s controversial sacking.
Sevilla again fell short in their bid to reach the last eight of this competition for the first time, but the night belonged to Leicester, who join the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the pot for Friday’s quarter-final draw.
It was a largely assured display from the home side but they survived a scare as early as the fourth minute when Nasri forced a fine reaction save from Schmeichel at his near post.
From there, Leicester grew into the game and moved ahead on the night and in the tie as Morgan bundled home Riyad Mahrez’s devilish set-piece.
Gabriel Mercado’s mis-hit cross almost provided Sevilla with a swift and fortunate equaliser, but Schmeichel was alert to tip the ball behind as Leicester went into the break with their lead intact.
That advantage was almost wiped out within eight minutes of the restart when Sergio Escudero’s dipping, swerving shot from 35 yards crashed off the crossbar with Schmeichel rooted to the spot.
Fortune was seemingly smiling on Leicester, and they took full advantage a minute later as Albrighton gave them the aggregate lead.
Mahrez was again involved, his cross headed out by Adil Rami straight to the feet of Albrighton, who controlled and fired low past Sergio Rico from just inside the box.
Mahrez was looking much more like the man who won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year last season, more trickery leading to Rico parrying his cross into the path of Vardy, who lashed wide.
Despite Nasri’s dismissal for butting heads with Vardy, Sevilla looked to have been handed a way back into the tie by Schmeichel but N’Zonzi’s unconvincing kick was easily saved as Leicester held on as their fairytale took another remarkable twist.
KEY OPTA STATS:
– Leicester’s victory means England have now had more different teams reach the Champions League quarter-final than any other nation (eight).
– The Foxes are the first English side to overcome a first leg defeat against Spanish opposition in the Champions League knock-out stages since Chelsea in 2005 (v Barcelona).
– Riyad Mahrez has been directly involved in six of Leicester’s 10 Champions League goals this season (four goals and two assists).
– Kasper Schmeichel has saved both of his penalties in the Champions League this season, with both coming in each leg against Sevilla.
– Sevilla are the first team to miss a penalty in each leg of a Champions League knock-out round since Bayern Munich in 2013/14 (v Arsenal).
– The game’s opening goal was the 48th shot Sevilla had faced away from home in the Champions League this season, but the first goal they conceded.
– Wes Morgan became the first Jamaican player to score in a Champions League game.
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