On Tuesday night, the latest chapter of Leicester City’s Cinderella story was born. The Foxes went into their matchup against Sevilla needing only a 1-0 victory to advance, but they no longer had Claudio Ranieri guiding them from the sidelines. A one-goal victory against one of the top teams in Spain, even at home, was always going to be a difficult mountain to climb, but they had more than enough luck on their side to win.
Less than 30 minutes into the match, a goal from “Captain” Wes Morgan sent the King Power Stadium into a frenzy. Riyad Mahrez, who has struggled to rediscover his world-beating from last season, delivered a curled set piece into the box to set up the chance. After some chaos, Morgan got his thigh on the end of the cross and pushed the ball across the line.
The goal meant that Leicester had one foot in the quarter finals of the Champions League alongside the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Before the real celebrating could begin, the Foxes still had to hold on for another hour.
Leicester had a dream start to the second half with Marc Albrighton doubling their lead in the 54th minute. After Sevilla failed to clear the danger from the Foxes’ initial attack, the ball fell to Albrighton who slid an inch-perfect inside the post past a helpless Sergio Rico. With a two-goal lead, dreams of fans around the world started to look more and more like reality as the Foxes edged closer to the final eight of the most elite club competition in the world.
Former Manchester City man Samir Nasri made his mark on the match in the 74th minute. Nasri, who had been booked in the first half for a reckless tackle, was baited into an argument with Jamie Vardy. Nasri and Vardy both went into the altercation with the classic “forehead-to-forehead” approach, but when the Frenchman made contact with Vardy, the Leicester striker went down like a sack of potatoes.
Vardy’s dramatics earned Nasri a second yellow card and an early trip to the showers. Granted, Vardy made more out of the contact than was warranted, but the blame still has to fall on Nasri. He knew that he was sitting on a yellow card, and he let his emotions get the best of him. With just over 15 minutes left to play, could a ten-man Sevilla find a way back into the match?
Five minutes after Nasri’s sending off, Sevilla had the chance to bring the aggregate score level from the penalty spot. After Vitolo got his close-range shot off, a sliding Kasper Schmeichel took out the striker’s legs. Former Stoke City midfielder Steven N’Zonzi stepped up to the spot, and it looked like Leicester’s Champions League dreams were about to go down the drain. N’Zonzi’s penalty kick left a lot to be desired as Schmeichel easily pushed it aside.
Vardy had the chance to seal the deal in the 88th minute after a great counter attacking move from Mahrez, but he fired his one-on-one chance high and wide. After the miss, the polarizing striker decided to punch himself in the face a couple of times. From the look of it, the punches had a lot more force than Nasri’s “head-butt,” but Vardy managed to stay on his feet.
Luckily, for Leicester fans and neutral fans around the world, Vardy’s missed opportunity didn’t come back to bite the Foxes as they held on for a thrilling 2-0 result. Now, we get to see the Foxes take on one of Europe’s biggest clubs in the final eight of the Champions League. I never thought that I would have to type that sentence, but I hope that in a couple months I get to write about them winning the whole tournament.