Leicester stun Sevilla to continue heroic Euro journey
Leicester City 2 Sevilla 0: Leicester win 3-2 on aggregate
The fairytale might have ended, but might we now be seeing the beginnings of a story even more fantastic?
Leicester City are still a long way from a Champions League final in Cardiff, and likely have much greater opponents in the way than a disappointingly tepid Sevilla, but they have already gone a lot further than anyone expected in reaching the quarter-finals.
There was definitely something special about this 2-0 win over Sevilla, fired by goals from Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton, if also something fortuitous.
The Foxes got the breaks in the way Jamie Vardy cynically used Samir Nasri's foolish dip of the head to get the playmaker sent off, and how Steven N'Zonzi took such a poor penalty on 80 minutes - the second spot-kick Sevilla had missed over 180 minutes. It was another crucial save, however, that Kasper Schmeichel had made.
Leicester - with Craig Shakespeare now in charge after Claudio Ranieri's axing - started the game much higher up the pitch than might have been expected, while Sevilla seemed a little sapped of energy.
If it has become cliché by now to talk about the English champions getting back to the performance levels of last season, a goal from a set-piece should also have been a cliché - but that was precisely what Sevilla were susceptible to.
On 26 minutes, Vardy brought a foul from Vicente Iborra, Riyad Mahrez stepped up to curl in a fine free-kick and captain Morgan arrived at the back post. It wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing finish but that didn't matter.
What mattered was that Leicester were ahead, and Sevilla now had to attack a team never more comfortable than getting to play on the counter at home.
The difference between the sides was displayed again just minutes into the second half. Although the excellent Sergio Escudero smashed the crossbar with a brilliant strike from distance on 52 minutes, Nicolas Pareja rushed the rebound and sent it well over.
Leicester went straight up the other end to ultimately put Albrighton into a similar but more difficult position to Pareja, but there was nothing rushed about what he did. He calmed himself, teed the ball up and then whacked it low and true past Sergio Rico.
A decisive minute? Leicester now didn't just have the advantage, they had security. A single Sevilla goal would now only put the game into extra-time.
The Foxes soon had an extra man, however. With Sevilla getting frustrated with their inability to get going and play their game, Nasri got right up to Vardy's face on 74 minutes. Although the French ace dropped his head a touch too vigorously, Vardy used the opportunity, going down in a way not consistent with the contact.
It meant Nasri was off, having received his second booking. It was soon after, though, that Sevilla got their best chance. On 79 minutes, Vitolo was beautifully put through on goal, only to abruptly go to ground as Christian Fuchs went in on one side and Kasper Schmeichel the other. It was the goalkeeper punished.
N'Zonzi stepped up to hit the penalty… and feebly hit it, for Schmeichel to get across.
There was still one more chance - but for Vardy. He blazed over, and was literally smacking himself in anger.
He wasn't to regret it. Leicester, it seems, won't regret sacking Ranieri. Shakespeare has already done something remarkable.
He was duly celebrated on a massive tifo quoting Julius Caesar before the game. Leicester are still doing the unpredictable.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Amartey, 90 mins), Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (Slimani, 64 mins), Vardy. Unused subs: Zieler, Chilwell, King, Gray, Ulloa.
Sevilla: Sergio Rico, Mercado (Mariano, 46 mins), Pareja, Rami, Sarabia (Jovetic, 46 mins), Iborra, Nzonzi, Escudero, Vitolo, Ben Yedder (Correa, 68 mins), Nasri
Unused subs: Soria, Kranevitter, Vazquez, Lenglet.
Man of the Match: Kasper Schmeichel
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: Daniele Orsato (Italy)