UCL: Leicester City beat Sevilla 3-2 on aggregate to qualify for quarter-final

Written by: IANS
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Leicester, March 1: English football champions Leicester City defeated Sevilla 2-0 in the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie to move into the quarter-finals on an aggregate score of 3-2.

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West Morgan (27th minute) and Marc Albrighton (54th) on Tuesday gave Leicester the 2-0 win at the King Power Stadium despite Sevilla coming into the game with a 2-1 first leg win in Seville, reports Efe.

Leicester players celebrate (Image courtesy: Leicester City Twitter handle)

Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel defused a penalty from Steven N'Zonzi to give the English club one of its biggest performances in its history.

Sevilla, sitting third in La Liga, were widely expected to dispatch Leicester City, who stunned the football world by winning the English Premier League (EPL) last year but are now only 3 points above the drop zone in the 2016-17 season.

The Foxes, however, have improved dramatically since the firing of head coach Claudio Ranieri and his replacement by erstwhile assistant Craig Shakespeare, who directed the side to wins over Liverpool and Hull City in his first two outings as the chief coach.

The visitors managed only a pair of chances in the early going -- a Samir Nasri strike saved by Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and an Adil Rami free kick that sailed over the crossbar.

Nasri, seen as the key to Sevilla's hopes, delivered a subpar performance and in the 18th minute drew what turned out to be a crucial yellow card in with a pointless foul away from the ball.

One in a series of Sevilla defensive lapses set up the first goal for the Foxes, which came in the 27th minute from captain Morgan, who knocked the ball in with his knee after a Riyad Mahrez free kick to the far post.

Sevilla reacted with vigour, but suffered from a lack of quality in the final third as the hosts grew more and more comfortable with half-time approaching.

The Spanish side had a golden opportunity to equalse just seven minutes after the restart when Sergio Escudero's shot from distance bounced off the crossbar and landed at the feet of Sevilla's Ben Yedder, who inexplicably fired high over the net.

Two minutes later, Rami's poor clearance set up a goal by Leicester's Albrighton to make it 2-0.

Vardy could have put the match away in the 64th minute, but fired wide, though he found another way to contribute when he goaded Nasri into a head-butt in the 75th minute, leading to the expulsion of the Sevilla forward.

With just over 10 minutes left in regulation, Sevilla got a chance to get back into the contest when Schmeichel brought down Vitolo in the area. N'Zonzi stepped to the line for Sevilla and let loose a poor effort that Schmeichel turned aside.

Leicester stymied Sevilla for the remainder of the match to claim the quarter-final berth.

"I was very pleased (with the players). Of course in a tie of this stature against one of the best teams in Europe, we needed to make sure that we kept cool heads," Leicester coach Shakespeare told the club's website.

"We also needed to show a competitive edge and I think we showed that from the first minute. I think we set our stall out really well from the first minute.

"That was the game plan, to try to make it as uncomfortable as we could for Sevilla. We didn't want them playing their passing game and you could see that from the first minute."

IANS

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