Jamie Vardy goal keeps Leicester in contention against Sevilla – Champions League
Last 16 First leg
Sevilla 2-1 Leicester City
Leicester were beaten 2-1 by Sevilla in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash tonight, but were given a lifeline in the form of a Jamie Vardy away goal.
Pablo Sarabia gave the home side a deserved lead in the 25th minute when he powered a header in off the far post, before Joaquin Correa doubled the advantage in the 62nd minute.
Correa also saw a penalty saved by Kasper Schmeichel in a one-sided first half, while Vitolo and Adil Rami both hit the woodwork after the break.
But Vardy pulled one back for the visitors with their first real foray into the opposition box 17 minutes from time after Danny Drinkwater’s superb assist, as Leicester managed to survive an onslaught and escape with only a one-goal deficit.
The goal – Vardy’s first in the Champions League – gives the Foxes a lifeline ahead of the return leg at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday, March 14.
The Premier League champions have endured a miserable title defence since completing their fairytale last May, currently languishing one point above the relegation zone having failed to score a league goal in 2017 and with the worst domestic record out of the 92 league clubs.
The Foxes also suffered a late defeat against League One Millwall in the last 16 of the FA Cup on Saturday, and Claudio Ranieri made 10 changes from that starting XI, as the likes of Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Schmeichel and Drinkwater returned.
Sevilla started on the front foot with Schmeichel given an early scare in the fourth minute after Sarabia cut inside onto his left foot and fired narrowly over the crossbar from 25 yards.
The Danish stopper had to be alert moments later too, when Christian Fuchs inadvertently wrong-footed the goalkeeper with his headed back pass, but the visitors survived unscathed.
The hosts had an even better opportunity to open the scoring in the 14th minute when Leicester captain Wes Morgan brought down Correa in the box after a patient move, but his subsequent penalty was saved by Schmeichel low to his right.
Schemichel was in the action again barely six minutes later, diving low to his left to keep out Escudero’s low drive.
The breakthrough eventually arrived with an unstoppable header from Sarabia in the 25th minute, powering in from Sergio Escudero’s left-wing cross.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side nearly doubled their advantage immediately when Mahrez carelessly gave away the ball and Vitolo’s long-range effort cannoned off Robert Huth but was turned over by a back-pedalling Schmeichel.
The visitors were desperate to go in at half-time just one goal down but Danny Simpson was the next Leicester player to be make a careless error, with Schemichel again coming to the rescue with a save from Correa.
The second-half predictably continued in the same manner as the previous 45 minutes, with Schmeichel again on hand to comfortably deny Correa after he had deflected Mariano’s effort on goal before Sergio Rico was forced into his first save at the other end when Wilfried Ndidi’s 25-yard volley sailed into his arms.
But the visitors survived another scare just moments later, as Samir Nasri sent a sumptuous disguised pass beyond Leicester’s offside trap only for Vitolo to stump the foot of the post and see the ball trickle along the goalline.
Sarabia then dragged an effort wide shortly afterwards, but Leicester finally woke up just shy of the hour mark after Ranieri sent on Demarai Gray for the ineffective Musa and the substitute’s endeavour enabled Drinkwater to strike wide courtesy of a deflection.
Sevilla, though, doubled their advantage when Morgan and Huth were caught out by a routine ball over the top and former Manchester City forward Stevan Jovetic squared to Correa who finished with aplomb via the underside of the crossbar.
Although Leicester had been outplayed from the off, their discipline and endeavour remained admirable and in the 73rd minute they had a route back into the tie when Vardy notched his first Champions League goal after the visitors’ first meaningful attack.
Gray did well to find Drinkwater down the left-hand side and the England midfielder cut back for his international team-mate to slam home from close range.
That goal only served to awake Sevilla, who went on the assault to find a third goal but once again Schmeichel was on hand to keep the hosts at bay when Vitolo met Sarabia’s deflected cross at the back post before Jovetic’s shot deflected off Huth but went the right side of the upright.
The woodwork was struck again in the dying minutes after centre-back Rami crashed a header against the bar, but the Foxes held on to ensure they need a 1-0 win in the return leg to advance to the last eight.