Leicester Survive Sevilla
Despite the hosts’ impressive 90 minutes, the Foxes take an away goal in a 1-2 loss
Jorge Sampaoli was evidently unwilling to deal in any of the usual diplomacy these occasions usually involve. The Sevilla manager spoke as abrasively as his team had played in their 2-1 Champions League last-16 first leg win over Leicester City.
“Wewerefarsuperiorinthedevelopment of the game, with 10 clear scoring chances,”Sampaoli.“Theydidverylittlebutsucceeded in the end. I think we deserved a bit more. We had all sorts of chances but hit the post and crossbar. Our opponents only hadafewchances,butnowwehavetogoto Leicester for the win.”
He was right. Sevilla were for the most part brilliant against Leicester, and should be confidently striding into the next round – via a trip to the Kingpower Stadium more a formality than a deciding leg–onthebackofahealthywin.Thatisn’t the case, though.
Leicester,incontrasttothehosts,werealmostbeaming.JamieVardywascracking jokes despite coming out of a doping test so late, while a smile had returned to the face of Claudio Ranieri. Such is the immense psychological power of an away goal.
Because, if you were to take Sevilla’s 2-1 win just on the performance, it would be very difficult to conclude anything else thanthattheywilleasilygothrough.They were that much better than Leicester. Sure,theremighthavebeenalittlewobble beforetheygottheirsecondgoal,andthere were conspicuous nerves and some shaky defending when Jamie Vardy pulled one back but the difference between the teams
was still so vast.
Sevilla were just so much more sophisticatedandswiftlyimposingthanLeicester – repeatedly and resoundingly punching holes in Leicester’s fragile backline. The only reason they didn’t score more was brilliant goalkeeping, blind bad luck and asmallamountofunimpressivefinishing.
Whether an away goal can actually enhance Leicester’s performance is another issue. They are going to have to drastically improve to have any chance of going
through.Itsimplyisn’tpossibletoimagine on the basis of what actually happened on the pitch in Seville.
A huge theme of the last few days around the Leicester squad has been the idea of a “turning point” and how one good momentcouldchangeeverything.Ifsuchmoments are actually possible, then Vardy’s goal surely fits that profile better than anything else.
Jamie Vardy celebrates his goal against Sevilla