Leicester writing new fairy tale

Midfielder Marc Albrighton scoring Leicester City's second goal during their Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Sevilla at the King Power Stadium.
Midfielder Marc Albrighton scoring Leicester City's second goal during their Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Sevilla at the King Power Stadium.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Champions League debutants celebrate milestone after qualifying for quarter-finals

LONDON • Craig Shakespeare hailed one of the greatest nights in Leicester City's history and expressed his belief that his team could be the surprise package in the Champions League after they defeated Sevilla on Tuesday to reach the quarter-finals.

On a night laced with emotion and full of drama, Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton scored the goals that gave Leicester a 2-0 win and a 3-2 victory on aggregate.

Sevilla, who have won the Europa League in each of the past three seasons, were unable to handle the intensity of Leicester's play and lost their discipline in the second half.

Midfielder Samir Nasri was sent off after receiving a second yellow card following an altercation with striker Jamie Vardy, who was also booked after the two squared up.

Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli was then dismissed and, in another late twist, Kasper Schmeichel saved Steven N'Zonzi's penalty, which would have taken the game into extra time had N'Zonzi scored.

SURPRISE PACKAGE

We know there will be some terrific teams in the last eight, as there were in the previous round, but we're in there on merit - we might just be the surprise team.

CRAIG SHAKESPEARE , the Leicester manager, believes his side can cause more shocks in the Champions League.

"When we needed Kasper the most he came up trumps," said Shakespeare, who was taking charge of his first game since being given the manager's job until the end of the season.

He was caretaker for two games following Claudio Ranieri's sacking last month.

"We deserve to be in the quarter-finals, we have just knocked out one of the best teams in Europe in my opinion. I think it has to stand right up there with all of our achievements because of the quality of the opposition," he said.

"We know there will be some terrific teams in the last eight, as there were in the previous round, but we're in there on merit - we might just be the surprise team."

Playing like the side who won the Premier League title last season, Leicester made life difficult for Sevilla throughout, with Vardy setting the tone with his aggressive running up front.

"Against one of the best teams in Europe we needed to keep cool heads but also show that competitive edge, so the plan was to press high and make it as uncomfortable as possible for Sevilla," Shakespeare added.

There were wild scenes at the final whistle as the Champions League debutants celebrated a landmark moment in the club's history.

"It is an unbelievable achievement," Schmeichel said.

"We had a game plan, we stuck to it and it came off perfectly."

Sampaoli said he did not know why Italian referee Daniele Orsato dismissed either Nasri or him.

Sevilla have seen their La Liga title hopes fade after successive 1-1 draws against Alaves and Leganes and Sampaoli said fatigue may have been a factor in their exit.

"It's hard to compete on two fronts in the league and the Champions League. That creates a certain amount of stress," said the Argentinian. "But I'm really proud of the effort my boys put in tonight."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Leicester writing new fairy tale'. Print Edition | Subscribe