A win against Sevilla in the first knockout round of the Champions League has left Leicester City in dreamland once again as they begin to imagine the impossible.
Thanks to Jamie Vardy’s away goal at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, the Foxes were in with a great chance of progressing to the quarter-finals of the competition.
It was Craig Shakespeare’s first official game in charge of the Premier League champions; a Champions League Last-16 encounter with Sevilla, the winners of the Europa League for the last three seasons.
Leicester were quick out of the blocks in front of a passionate and hostile King Power Stadium crowd.
Captain Wes Morgan made the breakthrough after bundling home Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick to give the home side a first-half lead.
Marc Albrighton scored Leicester’s first Champions League goal back in September at Club Brugge and his drive into the bottom corner gave the Foxes a 3-2 aggregate lead against Sevilla.
This now puts Albrighton level with Cristiano Ronaldo on goals scored in this year’s campaign.
The goal came moments after Sevilla’s Sergio Escudero struck the bar with a fierce and dipping effort from distance.
Leicester had to survive a spell of pressure in the latter stages but they were helped by the dismissal of Samir Nasri.
After a clash of heads with Jamie Vardy, both players were shown yellow cards but it was the Frenchman’s second of the game.
That wasn’t the last of the drama however as Kasper Schmeichel denied Steven N’Zonzi from the penalty spot before Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli was sent to the stands following an outburst of frustration.
The Danish goalkeeper made Champions League history with the save, becoming the first to save penalties in both legs of a knockout match following Joaquin Correa’s miss in the away tie.
Joining Leicester in the next round are Germany’s Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, Spain’s Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as Italy’s Juventus; an elite list of clubs.
Wednesday night’s matches between Monaco and Manchester City, and Atletico Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen will complete the draw.
It could get even better for the Foxes, as following the talk of Leicester embarrassing England in Europe and ruining the co-efficient; Monaco knocking out Manchester City would mean the English champions will be the last representative of the nation left in the competition.
With the critics claiming Leicester were yet to face a side of real quality, despite topping a group including former European champions Porto, the victory against Sevilla has made a huge statement.
It was the first time Sevilla have been knocked out of a European competition in three-and-a-half years.
Leicester will no doubt want to progress but the prospect of an away fixture against one of Europe’s top sides is all too tempting as opposed to wanting to draw Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side have played, albeit struggled, against the Foxes for the last two seasons and therefore will know the strengths of the champions.
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has openly claimed his side want to avoid Leicester in the draw and summed up the situation perfectly, saying: “Against them, we would have everything to lose” (Sky Sports).
It’s a state none of Europe’s elite wants to be in because despite Leicester’s quality, it would be considered embarrassing for a Barcelona or a Bayern Munich to be defeated by them.
This gives Leicester an edge in the quarter-finals as, besides Manchester City, most clubs will feel tenuous ahead of a trip to the King Power Stadium; a ground that has become a fortress for the Foxes over the last couple of years.
Providing they can keep the defence tight in the away leg, Leicester have proved anything can happen in front of their home supporters.
The odds of the impossible aren’t as protruding as 5000/1; however, Leicester’s ability to rattle Europe’s most prestigious clubs is rather enjoyable and who’s to say the journey has to end in the next round?