Leicester Sur­vive Sevilla

De­spite the hosts’ im­pres­sive 90 min­utes, the Foxes take an away goal in a 1-2 loss

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Miguel De­laney

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

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