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Leicester stun Sevilla and reach the Champions League quarter finals

Leicester City 2:0 Sevilla (3:2)

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City produced a superb performance against Sevilla in the Champions League second round at the KPS on Tuesday night, a 2-0 victory making this perhaps the most glorious night in the club’s history…

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The atmosphere in the King Power was cranked up to 11, with an impressive Shakespearian ‘Let Slip the Dogs of War’ tifo display in the Kop end, and some great backing for the visitors in the away corner.

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Craig Shakespeare offered no surprises in his starting XI, sticking to the same side for the third game running, a formula that has worked for him up to now.
So we listened to the Champions League anthem for the eighth time, and we were off.

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Sevilla threatened early on, with Huth blocking Yedder’s progress, and then a fine touch by Nasri earned him some space in on the right to blast a shot from an angle that Schmeichel did very well to block with his left arm.
City began to press forward and in the 10th minute Ndidi was inches away from getting his head to an Albrighton corner, before Iborra blocked Mahrez’s shot from the clearance.
An Ndidi foul on Vitolo 25 yards out gave Sevilla a free-kick with possibilities, but Rami sent it sailing over the bar.
Nasri was then booked for clattering Ndidi, a yellow card that would have consequences later on.
In the 21st minute Sarabia dragged his shot wide from a decent position and Sevilla would soon rue that missed chance.
In the 27th minute, City turned the tie on its head. Iborra fouled Vardy out on the left and Mahrez lined up the free-kick. He floated a perfect ball into the area, which evaded the ruck in the middle and fell for Morgan to knee it home at the far post.

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This caused pandemonium around the ground and a frantic spell of play as Sevilla attempted an instant reply. Iborra had a shot blocked and Fuchs headed the resultant corner clear. Yedder then sent a shot into the sidenetting when well placed.
Mercado’s cross/shot then had to be tipped away by Schmeichel before City managed to calm things down.
They were the better side up to the break. Vardy had a shot blocked, Drinkwater fired an effort straight at Rico, and Fuchs made great progress down the left, staying on his feet after a foul in the area, but shooting straight at the keeper.
The half time whistle meant that City were 45 minutes away from a place in the quarter finals and the tension was almost unbearable.

This feeling worsened when Sevilla, with Mariano and Jovetic on for Mercado and Sarabia, had the best of the second half opening spell.
Huth cleared a dangerous low cross from Vitolo, and Fuchs got his head to a Nasri cross before a horrible moment in the 53rd minute when Escudero strode forward before unleashing a dipping 30 yarder that hit the underside of the bar.
It was a reminder of how narrow City’s ‘away goal lead’ was but a minute later City went ahead in the tie and the King Power erupted again.

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Okazaki had a shot blocked, Mahrez crossed the loose ball, Rami’s attempted clearance fell for Albrighton, who took a composed touch before firing a shot just inside the right hand post.
Although Sevilla could still force extra time with a goal, they looked rattled and weren’t causing City’s defence many problems.
Shakespeare made his first change in the 63rd minute, bringing Slimani on for Okazaki, who had run himself into the ground once again.
Vardy then wasted a good chance when Rico pushed a Mahrez cross into his path.
But the tie turned further in City’s favour in the 74th minute when Nasri lost his rag with Vardy following a tussle and appeared to be the main aggressor in a coming together of heads. He was shown his second yellow, but wasn’t prepared to go quietly into the night, having to be dragged off the field by his teammates.

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The FA Cup match at Millwall showed us that ten men can be better than eleven, and so it proved here, with Sevilla being awarded a 79th minute penalty.
Vitolo charged into the area and lifted the ball over Schmeichel, who then crashed into him. The referee pointed to the spot and booked the City keeper.
Silence fell around the ground and the spectre of extra time loomed, but N’Zonzi’s spot-kick was poor and Schmeichel saved low to his left.
A huge roar greeted the save and it looked as though the footballing gods were back on City’s side.

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Sevilla were losing their composure now, and coach Jorge Sampaoli was sent to the stands in a gibbering rage.
City continued to look for goals and Vardy sent a header straight at Rico with the goal at his mercy.
Slimani then went clear down the right, but stumbled in trying to round Rico and the chance was gone.
City last chance came in the 89th minute when Mahrez hared down the middle on the break, and set up Vardy, who snatched his effort over the bar, before giving his face a good pummelling in frustration.
Sevilla desperately pushed forward in the four minutes of time added on. Correa had a shot blocked and blazed another one over, but the final whistle eventually sounded and Leicester City were in the Champions League quarter finals.
You may have to read that sentence a few times.

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It had been a magnificent performance from every City player and this incredible journey continues.
Craig Shakespeare commented: “We deserve to be in the quarter-finals, we have just knocked out one of the best teams in Europe in my opinion. I think it has to stand right up there with all of our achievements because of the quality of the opposition. We know there will be some terrific teams in the last eight, as there were in the previous round, but we’re in there on merit – we might just be the surprise team.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Amartey 89), Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (Slimani 63), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Zieler, Chilwell, King, Gray, Ulloa.
Sevilla: Sergio Rico, Mercado (Mariano 46), Pareja, Rami, Sarabia (Jovetic 45), Iborra, Nzonzi, Escudero, Vitolo, Ben Yedder (Correa 68), Nasri. Subs Not Used: Soria, Kranevitter, Vazquez, Lenglet.

Referee: D Orsato. Attendance: 31,520. 

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Win over Bruges sees Leicester into Champions League knockout phase

Leicester City 2:1 FC Bruges

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City’s 2-1 win over Bruges at the KPS on Tuesday night sealed top spot in Group G, and saw the Champions League new boys into the last 16…

City, who only needed a point to progress into the knockout phase, had one change to the starting line-up with King replacing Amartey in midfield.
And Claudio Ranieri’s side got off to a cracking start, taking a 5th minute lead.
Fuchs made good progress down the left and curved a low cross round two defenders, which was met by Okazaki at the near post for a fine finish into the top left hand corner.

Leicester City v Club Brugge, Champions League, 22 November 2016

The Belgian champions were rattled by this and struggled to keep possession against an energetic looking City. Three minutes later Mahrez almost caught out Butelle with a near post shot from an acute angle, but the keeper managed to block.
City continued to press forward, but decent crosses from Albrighton and Vardy saw no one in position for a finishing touch.
In a rare attack for Bruges, Vanaken got his head to a cross, but straight into Zieler’s grasp.
After a flat spell of play, City reignited the crowd with a second goal on the half hour.
Albrighton went round Cools down the left, but the defender caught him as he went past and referee Ruddy Buquet had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Mahrez sent Butelle the wrong way with his usual halting run up, and City were so close to the next round that you could almost touch it.
Approaching the break, there was a chance at either end.
Morgan sent a header towards the top corner, but Butelle saved; and Zieler produced an acrobatic parry in response to  a curling effot from Izquierdo.

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City applied some early pressure in the second half, with a long-throw and a cross from Fuchs both causing the visitors’ defence problems, but it was Bruges who found the net in the 52nd minute.
City’s proud record of no goals conceded in the competition was dented when Izquierdo collected the ball on the halfway line, raced past Fuchs, and fired in a shot that beat Zieler at his near post.
With the evening now gaining an extra edge, there were two disallowed goals in as many minutes. Vardy produced a clever back-heel that trundled over the line, while at the other end Claudemir found the net, but both were narrowly offside.
Claudio Ranieri made a double change in the 68th minute, with Gray and Schlupp replacing goalscorers Okazaki and Mahrez.
After a minute on the field, Schlupp beat his marker and charged goalwards, but sent his shot too close to Butelle.
Bruges had a decent attacking spell which gnawed at the nerves a little, but the City defence never looked too stretched.
Armartey replaced Albrighton with 12 minutes remaining, and he soon had a chance, but got his shot horribly wrong.
Bruges’s best chance came and went when a Van Rhijn corner was flicked across goal by Vanaken, but no one was positioned for what would have been a tap in.

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A chance to end the evening in great style was then wasted. Gray played a superb one-two with Vardy, as City broke upfield, and was clear on goal, but the youngster hit his shot straight at the advancing Butelle.
In the third minute of time added on Gray was again denied by Butelle after Drinkwater teed him up, but the final whistle sparked delighted celebrations at City’s incredible achievement.
Porto’s goalless draw in Copenhagen meant that City had won the group with a game to spare. Not bad for a first attempt.

Claudio was delighted, but mindful of domestic matters: “It’s unbelievable. Top of the group, very happy, very proud for my players, very happy for the chairman, for the fans, for everybody. Another journey to the knockout – unbelievable. Now our mind must go on the Premier League because I want to push my players to think about that.”

Leicester: Zieler, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, King, Mahrez (Schlupp 68), Albrighton (Amartey 78), Okazaki (Gray 68), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Hamer, Hernández, Musa, Ulloa.
Bruges: Butelle, Simons, Poulain, Claudemir (Wesley 84), Vossen, Izquierdo, Pina (Limbombe 61), Vanaken, Cools, De Bock (Van Rhijn 70), Mechele. Subs Not Used: Bruzzese, Felipe Gedoz, Denswil, Bolingoli.

Referee: R Buquet. Attendance: 31,443. 

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber. 
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Mahrez strike continues Leicester’s perfect Champions League record

Leicester City 1:0 FC Copenhagen

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A Riyad Mahrez goal, five minutes before half-time, was enough to defeat Copenhagen at the KPS on Tuesday night, taking City a big step closer to a place in the knockout phase…

Claudio Ranieri made four changes to his side with Simpson, King, Mahrez and Slimani returning to the starting line-up, against a side unbeaten in their 21 games this season.

The opening stages of the game were played out in a swirling mist created by a spectacular display of pyrotechnics in the the Copenhagen corner during the Champions League anthem.

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Copenhagen took the early initiative, Schmeichel blocked a angled shot from Santander and then Huth and Morgan got in each other’s way defending a cross.
Morgan then appeared to suffer a back strain stretching to reach an Augustinsson cross.
Happily for City he managed to continue.
After 15 minutes of slick passing possession from the visitors City began to find their feet and it became clear that the orders for the night were direct balls forward to the front two.
This led to a Vardy cross that was gathered by Olsen, and a Vardy shot that was deflected wide.
With Drinkwater and King combining well in midfield City began get the upper hand. Albrighton teed up Vardy on the edge of the area, but his mis-hit volley trundled straight into Olsen’s grasp.
Vardy’s pace then earned him a free-kick out on the left, but Fuchs whipped in free-kick was punched clear by the commanding Olsen.
City broke the deadlock five minutes before the break.

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Vardy’s cross from the left was nodded back across goal by Slimani, and Mahrez produced a flying kung-fu flick past Olsen to give City a precious lead.
The Danish Champions pressed forward in search of an equaliser before the break.
Toutouh went close with a shot and then Cornelius went even closer with an angled header from a corner, but the ball went a couple of inches past the left hand post, and City took their lead in at the break.

City started the second half strongly: Vardy set up Mahrez for a shot that flew well over, and then a delightful Mahrez ball (after he had won two tackles!) set up King in the area but his cross was cleared.
At the other end a low shot from  Jorgensen was deflected straight at Schmeichel.
A weak header from Johansen then saw Mahrez make progress into the area, but his shot was blocked before it reached Olsen.
City had the ball in the net again in the 65th minute, when Slimani jabbed the ball over the line from close in after his original header was saved by Olsen, but celebrations were halted by what looked like a harsh offside decision.
King then sent Slimani through on the right, but the Algerian slipped on the wet turf as he attempted to get round  Johansson.
Pacy substitute Falk caused City some problems and Fuchs was booked for tripping him. City brought on a sub of their own in the 85th minute, with Okazaki replacing Vardy.
With time running out, Copenhagen pressed forward trying to preserve their unbeaten record and Santander sent a header over from close in.

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In the 90th minute it looked as though City were about to lose two points when Santander beat Simpson on the left and crossed for Cornelius. His shot from 8 yards looked netbound, before Schmeichel threw himself across goal and pulled off a world class save, the Danish keeper denying the Danish Champions.

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The final whistle saw City sitting on top of Group G with 9 points from three games – more than they had gained in 8 Premier league games.
Claudio Ranieri touched on this contrast after the game: “From one side I’m very proud, from the other side, when I think of the Premier League, I’m very, very angry. But it’s OK because in my career this has happened. When for the first time you play in a big competition, you lose something when you go back in your league. This is normal but we want to change this way. It’s just psychological.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, King, Albrighton, Mahrez (Amartey 90), Slimani (Ulloa 88), Vardy (Okazaki 85). Subs Not Used: Zieler, Hernández, Schlupp, Musa.
Copenhagen: Olsen, Augustinsson, Johansson, Kvist, Verbic (Falk 66), Delaney, Cornelius, Santander, Ankersen (Gregus 87), Toutouh (Pavlovic 85), Jorgensen. Subs Not Used: Andersen, Hogli, Antonsson, Kusk.

Referee: N Rizzoli. Attendance: 31,037.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

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