Riyad Mahrez flighted the free-kick to the far post and Wes Morgan, with not much finesse but plenty of desire, bundled the ball over the line with his right thigh. Bam! First goal of the night – cue pandemonium! Leicester got lit! 10 months after a foxy grab of the Premier League title, is this another Cinderella story waiting to happen in the blue and hue of Leicester on a European stage? Is Leicester City FC set to do-a-Leicester and win the 2017 UEFA Champions League? Oh well…..
It was a raucous, extraordinary evening that ended with Leicester City celebrating the latest chapter in their remarkable story as Craig Shakespeare’s side took their place in the last eight of the Champions League. Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton scored the goals that mean Leicester will join Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in Friday’s quarter-final draw in Nyon. Just let that soak in for a moment.
What a night for Shakespeare, who is only the third Englishman to manage in the knockout stage of the Champions League. The 53-year-old has now overseen three straight victories since replacing Claudio Ranieri and his latest will live long in the memory for every Leicester support.
As for Sevilla, this was a chastening experience, summed up by the sight of Jorge Sampaoli, their manager, being sent to the stands not long after Samir Nasri received a red card following an altercation with Vardy. Nasri took an age to leave the pitch and so did the Leicester players after the final whistle. They were in dreamland.
With thousands of blue and white flags handed out to the home fans and huge banners unveiled as the players walked on to the pitch, including an image of Shakespeare holding a rottweiler straining at the leash, the stage was set for Leicester in what everyone at the club recognised was the biggest game in their 133-year history.
The atmosphere was electric and Leicester fed off the supporters’ energy in a frantic opening period. Playing with controlled aggression and intensity, Leicester snapped into tackles and chased lost causes. Vardy sprinted 30 yards to close down Nicolas Pareja, with the Leicester striker sliding across the turf to make a challenge that was met with huge roars.
Up step Morgan with the first goal!
Leicester, in their next attack, went straight up the other end and doubled their lead. Mahrez’s cross from the right failed to pick anyone out but Adil Rami could only head the ball towards the centre of the penalty area, where Albrighton was unmarked. The winger took a couple of touches to steady himself before drilling a low left-footed shot beyond Rico. Leicester 2 – 0 Sevilla!
It an incredible achievement in every sense and, once again, owed much to Kasper Schmeichel’s brilliant goalkeeping. Having saved a penalty in Seville, the Dane repeated the trick here, denying Steven N’Zonzi late on with one of those moments that makes you wonder whether everything is falling into place for Leicester in this tournament.
Oh well, will Leicester do a Leicester in Europe? We’ve got 2 months and 2 more rounds to find out!
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