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Leicester’s European Adventure ended by Atletico masterclass

Leicester City 1:1 Atletico Madrid (1:2)

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City’s wonderful European Odyssey came to an end at the King Power on Tuesday night when Atletico Madrid’s first half away goal simply gave them too much to do…

Craig Shakespeare made one change from the first leg six days previously, with Morgan returning from his injury lay-off to replace the suspended Huth.
The teams emerged to a cauldron of an atmosphere with a forest of metallic blue, silver and gold flags in the home areas and the away corner contributing their own display of scarves.

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After we heard the Champions League Anthem for a tenth time, the noise increased still further as the game kicked off, with Madrid attacking the Kop end.

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With the game so finely balanced, neither side could afford to throw too many men forward, and the early stages saw City probing forward and trying to send Vardy through, but Atletico’s defence appeared to have the measure of him.
Atletico’s first attacking move came in the 12th minute, but Simpson managed to slide in to block a dangerous looking run from Griezmann.
The visitors’ attacking spell continued with fast and accurate passing and Carrasco’s low cross almost found Koke in the middle.
Saul then fired a shot from the edge of the area well wide.

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Ndidi wasted an opportunity as he ran forward into space but mishit his shot straight at Oblak.
City had a good spell 20 minutes in. They won a corner, but a Benalouane foul meant that it came to nought. But they continued to press forward and a Mahrez through ball sent Vardy into the area on the left. His cross to the near post found Okazaki but he blazed it wide from 6 yards as a challenge came in.
Soon after this, Griezmann brought Mahrez down, but the winger delivered a tame free-kick straight into Oblak’s grasp.
City then broke again, but Mahrez delayed his pass to Vardy and the offside flag halted the move.
Just as in the first leg, an attacking spell for City ended with a goal for Atletico.

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Filipe Luis swung in a cross from the left and Saul timed his run perfectly to send a precise header beyond Schmeichel’s reach and into the net.
It was the goal that City couldn’t afford to concede, and left them needing three goals to win the tie.
Although the crowd roared City on, Atletico were in control now and looking every inch one of the top sides in Europe.
Carrasco curled in a shot that Schmeichel had to be sharp to catch, before Mahrez struck a volley through a crowded defence that didn’t have enough pace to trouble Oblak.
Carrasco then went on a solo run down the right, rode a challenge from Benalouane, and seemed intent on dribbling the ball into the net before Schmeichel managed to halt his progress with a sliding tackle at the right hand post.

Craig Shakespeare was faced with a huge challenge at half time and he made two changes, introducing Ulloa and Chilwell for Okazaki and Benalouane.
This changed City’s shape and immediately made life less comfortable for the Champions League finalists. Both subs looked lively as City launched one attack after another.
There was a scare in the 50th minute, however, when Griezmann raced down the right, and hit a low cross to Carrasco. Albrighton applied just enough contact to prevent him from getting on the end of it without conceding a penalty.
City kept up the frantic pace and when a header from Vardy dropped into some space in the area Chilwell fired a fine volley inches over the bar.
City finally managed to breach Atletico’s defence in the 61st minute. Albrighton swung in a dangerous cross from the right which reached Chilwell at the back post. His fierce shot was blocked, but as he appealed to the ref for handball, the loose ball fell for Vardy who stabbed it home from six yards.
City still needed two goals, but the noise around the stadium was clamorous, Madrid were out of their comfort zone, and the miracle was still on.

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Four minutes later City came so close to a second. A Fuchs long throw from the left saw Morgan win an aerial duel and the ball sat up nicely for Ulloa who blasted a shot on target, but Hernandez somehow managed to block.
As City continued to pile forward Mahrez set up Vardy on the penalty spot but this time it was Savic who managed to get in the way of a goal bound effort.
With Atletico pinned in their own half, Ndidi was the next to have a shot on goal, but he miskicked it wide.
As the game entered the final twenty minutes Albrighton delivered another cross from the right, but Vardy’s smart backheeled effort didn’t catch out Oblak.
Godin then brought Mahrez down on the edge of the area: he took the free kick himself but it flew narrowly over the bar.
City continued to threaten relentlessly with crosses from Albrighton and Chilwell and long throws from Fuchs, but time was running out for them.
With seven minutes left Morgan went down and stayed down, having to be replaced by Amartey. It was a sad sight to see him limping round the perimeter after his first game back from injury and he was given a standing ovation all the way.
Atletico still had the threat of Griezmann on the break but on one occasion Schmeichel came racing way out of goal to thwart him, and then he should have fed Torres but fluffed the chance.
As the game entered time added on City looked exhausted after an incredible second half performance and Atletico had more posession.
Schmeichel came up for a late series of corners, but City couldn’t will the ball into the net and the final whistle signalled the end of City’s awfully big adventure.

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Most of the crowd remained after the final whistle, bristlng with pride, and after Diego Simeone had sought out the City players for a consoling hug, there was a fitting lap of honour.
It had been said that Leicester would embarrass England in the Champions League. As the last English team in the competition, winners of their group, and unbeaten at home, this could not have been further from the truth.

Craig Shakepeare summed up: “The whole club, from the supporters to the players to the owners can be immensely proud. We had them rattled with the effort and commitment we showed. It’s no discredit to lose to a team of that calibre. I’ve just said to the players that they should want more of this and they’ve agreed that that’s what they want. All players want to play at the highest level and the Champions League is the highest level but we have to get back to winning ways in the Premier League now.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan (Amartey 84), Benalouane (Chilwell 45), Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Okazaki (Ulloa 45), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Musa, King, Zieler, Gray.
Atletico: Oblak, Juanfran (Hernández 55), Savic, Godín, Filipe Luis (Correa 74), Ñíguez, Gabi, Giménez, Koke, Carrasco (Torres 69), Griezmann. Subs Not Used: Moyá, Gameiro, Partey, Gaitán.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi. Attendance: 31,548.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

———————————————

We are simple folk here at Fox Towers, we have previously only offered a season subscription to the fanzine. But now we have decided to offer a further option of a year long subscription so you can hop on at any time, starting with the current issue and renewing a year later. 

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For just £16.95 you will receive every issue of The FOX for twelve months, including the Summer Special, posted out to you on publication day.

If you subscribe now, FOX 202 will be posted to you straight away, and you will also receive a free set of City postcards.

You can pay online via Paypal HERE  (UK price)

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Leicester hopes still alive after being robbed in Madrid

Atletico Madrid 1:0 Leicester City

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A poor penalty decision proved to be the only difference between the sides as City lost 1-0 in Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday night…

There was an electric atmosphere inside the Vicente Calderón Stadium, in what will be its last season, with many more Leicester fans than the official away allocation in attendance.
Craig Shakepeare sent out the line-up everyone was expecting, with captain Morgan still sidelined with a back injury, and due to the colour clash they were in 80s style blue shirts with white shorts and white socks.

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City created the first chance of the game after three minutes when Vardy made good progress down the left, but no one could reach his low cross.
City got a scare two minutes later when Koke cut in from the left and fired a fierce right-footer from the edge of the area against the left hand post.
Soon after this Griezmann crossed from the left, and although Huth got his head to it, the ball fell for Carrasco at the far post, but he volleyed high and wide with Fuchs applying some pressure.

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Atletico kept pressing forward with intensity, Griezmann launched a long-range effort a yard over the bar and then Filipe Luiz missed the target with a near post header.
But then City, with Ndidi pulling the strings, began to find their way into the game.
They enjoyed a spell of possession and were probing forward with Albrighton delivering a couple of crosses, but in the 29 minute Atletico ‘did a Leicester’ on us and took a 29th minute lead.
Play was on the edge of Atletico’s area when Griezmann went haring the length of the field down the left. Albrighton matched him for pace and looked to have done the perfect spoiling job, bringing the Madrid star down a couple of feet outside the area.
But referee Jonas Eriksson pointed to the spot, and Griezmann sent Schmeichel the wrong way with his spot kick.
Despite this blow, and the incredible noise around the stadium, City kept their composure.
Koko sent another long-range effort off target, while Albrighton did the same at the other end.
The ref was buying dives from the home players all over the field, so it was difficult for City to get anything going, but they got to half time, just one controversial goal behind.

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Craig Shakespeare started the second half with King on for Okazaki.
Atletico were on top for the opening stages and Benalouane picked up a yellow  for a late challenge on Torres as the defence began to look stretched.
But City weathered the early storm again and play moved to Atletico’s area. A Fuchs long throw wasn’t dealt with and Huth had a shot blocked before Mahrez picked up the loose ball but his attempted curler into the top corner flew well wide.
Bad news followed this when Griezmann was bowled over by Huth, who picked up a yellow card that would rule him out of the return leg.

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On the hour Mahrez picked up the ball on the left, made his way into the area and beat one man before crashing into Gabi rather too obviously. The ref wasn’t tempted to award a second penalty.
Atletico should have gone 2-0 up a minute later when Gabi sent Torres in on goal. He rounded Huth to make space for a shot but slipped over at the vital moment.
There was another close call when Torres fed Griezmann in down the left but his cross flashed across goal with no Madrid players in the goal mouth.
Craig Shakespeare made his second substitution in the 77th minute, bringing Slimani on for Vardy. Soon after this there was more activity around the dug out when technical staff member Tom Joel was sent to the stands for straying into the home technical area while delivering energy drinks to the players. There’s nothing like getting the big decisions right.
With five minutes remaining Benalouane produced a vital interception to cut out a low Juanfran cross that was heading for Griezmann.
Bar one run into the box from Correa, City weren’t really troubled up to the full time whistle and the game ended with City just one goal down and still in with a realistic prospect of further progress in the competition.

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Craig Shakespeare was not happy with the nature of the defeat:  “We were hard done by. It is one of the major decisions in the game – a definite foul but outside the box. I think it is a disappointing moment, a key moment. The referee has to get that one right, you can’t guess. Refs have a hard job but you want the key decisions correct.”

But it was another glorious European adventure for the fans, at least for the ones who avoided the indiscriminate police batons. Eight years ago to the day City were playing at Hereford in the third tier… now they have a decent chance of an appearance in the Champions League semi-finals.

Atletico: Oblak, Juanfran, Savic, Godín, Filipe Luis, Carrasco (Correaat 65), Gabi, Ñíguez, Koke, Torres (Parteyat 75), Griezmann. Subs Not Used: Correa, Cerci, Hernández, Partey, Gaitán, Giménez, Campos Moreira
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Benalouane, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (King 45), Vardy (Slimaniat 77). Subs Not Used: Chilwell, King, Amartey, Slimani, Zieler, Gray, Ulloa.
Referee: J Eriksson. Attendance: 51,423.

———————————————

We are simple folk here at Fox Towers, we have previously only offered a season subscription to the fanzine. But now we have decided to offer a further option of a year long subscription so you can hop on at any time, starting with the current issue and renewing a year later. 

postie-frank

For just £16.95 you will receive every issue of The FOX for twelve months, including the Summer Special, posted out to you on publication day.

If you subscribe now, FOX 202 will be posted to you straight away, and you will also receive a free set of City postcards.

You can pay online via Paypal HERE  (UK price)

Or send a cheque to:
The FOX,
22 Cosby Road,
Littlethorpe,
LEICESTER,
LE19 2HF

Annual subscription to EUROPE is £26.00: HERE

Annual subscription to REST OF WORLD is £32.00: HERE

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