Kasper Schmeichel’s heroics keep Leicester’s Champions League dream alive

Champions League, last 16 first leg, Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan – Sevilla 2 (Sarabia 25′, Correa 62′) Leicester City 1 (Vardy 73′)

Leicester City kept their Champions League dreams alive when coming from 2-0 down away at Sevilla to nick a vital away goal through Jamie Vardy.

Sevilla absolutely rousted Leicester for an hour, the goalkeeping of Kasper Schmeichel keeping the score respectable, before the introduction of Demarai Gray changed the flow of the game; he and Danny Drinkwater soon crafted an excellent away goal for Vardy. The two teams will now reconvene at the KP with the tie in the balance.

In the early stages, it was difficult to discern what Leicester’s plan was – or whether they even had one – as Steven N’Zonzi and Samir Nasri dominated midfield while Mariano sped up and down the right side. As such, it was no great surprise when Wes Morgan conceded a penalty in the 13th minute, clumsily fouling Joaquin Correa for no real reason; Correa himself stepped up to take the kick, but nudged it far too close to Schmeichel, who saved easily.

But 12 minutes later Sevilla were ahead, the outstanding Sarabia slamming home a header after Escudero’s superb cross. And their dominance continued , though it took until the 62nd minute for them to score again, Stevan Jovetic doing superbly to tee-up Correa, who finished with alacrity.

By then, though, Riyad Mahrez had moved to his favoured right wing, and when Gray came on, Leicester hinted at the possibility that they might be capable of perhaps threatening. And then they scored.

Sevilla were not at all happy with this development, doing all they could to increase their lead as Leicester challenged them on the counter; with more composure, they might even have equalised on the night. But they could not, and chances are, Sevilla’s class will tell in the return. Either way, though, it’ll be a lot of fun finding out, and, in the meantime, Leicester might just have gathered the momentum necessary to keep them in the Premier League.

TALKING POINT

Have Leicester found a system which works? With Albrighton tucking in alongside Ndidi and Drinkwater, each had licence to go forward, and the extra man helped get the ball to Vardy and Mahrez. As did the willingness of Gray to commit defenders and go for goal; suddenly Leicester were not fighting to survive, but fighting for the thrill of it all.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City): Saved a penalty and generally did everything possible to keep his side in the tie while they remembered how to play football.

PLAYER RATINGS

Sevilla: Sergio Rico 6, Rami 6, Lenglet 6, Escudero 7, Mariano 9, N’Zonzi 7, Nasri 8, Sarabai 7, Vitolo 7, Corra 6, Jovetic 8. Subs: Carrico 6, Iborra 6.

Leicester City: Schmeichel 9, Simpson 6, Morgan 5, Huth 6, Fuchs 5, Albrighton 6, Drinkwater 6, Ndidi 6, Musa 4, Mahrez 6, Vardy 6. Subs: Gray 8, Amartey 6.

KEY MOMENTS

13’ – 3-3-2-2 is a very odd formation, but it makes Sevilla almost impossible to predict and pick-up. And here they come again, Correa turning up in the box close to the by-line, weaving past Morgan, AND MORGAN DIVES IN! PENALTY!

14’ – SCHMEICHEL SAVES IT! This a pathetic, miserable, nonsense of a hit, low and close to Schmeichel who sprawls on it easily! What an escape that is!

26’ GOAL! Sevilla 1-0 Leicester City (Sarabia) This is beautifully taken, but begins with Musa failing to hold the ball up. So Sevilla break, find Escudero on the left, and he swings over a luscious cross to the far post, where Sarabia arrives to marmailse a header across Schmeichel and in off the far post.

50’ – Ndidi cracks a volley straight at Sergio Rico, which is something, but immediately Sevilla break and Nasri clips a lovely reverse-pass for Vitolo, hanging on the edge of the line as Huth steps up for no reason whatsoever. From an acute angle, he clips a shot against the inside base of the near post, and the ball then shoots across the face of goal but no one is on-hand to tap home.

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