Champions League Kingdom Sevilla Sports

Leicester rekindles fairytale

Leicester City’s midfielder Marc Albrighton (2nd R) celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates during their Champions League match against Sevilla at the King Power Stadium in Leicester Tuesday. — AFP
Leicester City’s midfielder Marc Albrighton (2nd R) celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates during their Champions League match against Sevilla at the King Power Stadium in Leicester Tuesday. — AFP

LEICESTER — Kasper Schmeichel pulled off a dramatic late penalty save as Leicester City sank Sevilla 2-0 Tuesday to reach the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, after which Claudio Ranieri was sacked as manager, Leicester scored through Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton before Schmeichel repelled Steven N’Zonzi’s spot-kick.

It gave it a 3-2 aggregate win and continued a remarkable turnaround under new manager Craig Shakespeare, who has won three games in a row since stepping up from his role as Ranieri’s assistant.

Unrecognizable in the defense of its miraculous Premier League title, Leicester have found solace in the Champions League and has now won all four of its home matches in the competition.

They also chose a good time to rediscover a bit of defensive solidity — and good fortune — having previously gone 12 matches without keeping a clean sheet in all competitions.

Sevilla, winner of the last three Europa Leagues, saw Samir Nasri sent off late on after he was shown an extraordinary second yellow card for aiming a headbutt at Jamie Vardy.

N’Zonzi might yet have taken the game to extra time after Schmeichel was penalized for catching Vitolo after the forward had dinked a shot past him.

But the Dane redeemed himself with a save low to his left, thwarting Sevilla’s hopes of reaching the last eight for the first time since 1958.

In Turin, Paulo Dybala’s penalty set Juventus on its way to a 1-0 win over 10-man Porto Tuesday and a place in the Champions League quarterfinals.

A day after he said it was his “dream” to score past veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Dybala converted from the spot in the 42nd minute after Maxi Pereira was sent off for handling the ball on the goal line.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side progressed from the Round of 16 with a 3-0 victory on aggregate and maintained its impressive record at the Juventus Stadium.

“I have to congratulate the lads for passing the round, as it wasn’t easy,” Allegri said. “We had a good first half, we controlled the ball well and didn’t concede. Then once we went ahead, once they went a man down, we only half played the second period and we need to improve on that.”

Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon said he was keen to avoid Leicester in the next round after the English champion beat Sevilla 2-0 in the night’s other match to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

However, Allegri was unconcerned about Juve’s prospective opponents.
“Who we draw, we’ll play and goodnight,” he said. “Anyway, we want to get to the end, so we have to play them all.”

It was Casillas’ 175th appearance in European competition, breaking the previous record held by former Italy and AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini.