Accra, March 15, 2017 (GNA/dpa) – After shocking the English football world last season, Leicester City are now trying to pull off the improbable in Europe.
A 2-0 win over Sevilla on Tuesday sent the Foxes into the Champions League quarter-finals 3-2 on aggregate.
It came against the backdrop of failing miserably to match last season’s Premier League title run and the sacking of manager Claudio Ranieri, the architect of that miracle.
« It is incredible, I can’t believe it, » captain Wes Morgan, who scored the opening goal, said after the match.
« We didn’t expect to get this far, it must be one of the greatest nights.
« We have proved everyone wrong and done the impossible again. »
A disastrous season in which Leicester teetered near the relegation places led to Ranieri’s dismissal following the 2-1 first-leg loss to Sevilla three weeks ago.
Assistant Craig Shakespeare took over and has led a revival with back-to-back league wins to put a little distance between the Foxes and the drop zone.
Even so, few expected them to overturn the deficit against a Sevilla side which had won the Europa League the past three seasons.
But Morgan bundled home a free-kick in the first half and Marc Albrighton fired in a second after the break.
Even after Sevilla’s Samir Nasri was sent off, the visitors still could have forced extra time but Kasper Schmeichel saved Steven Nzonzi’s late penalty, his second spot-kick stop of the tie, to preserve the victory.
« In a cup tie of this stature against one of the best teams in Europe, we needed to make sure that we kept cool heads, » Shakespeare said.
« The idea was to make it as uncomfortable as we could for Sevilla in the first 15 minutes and play on the front foot.
« Wes getting the first one put us in the driving seat. I think we drove forward from there. »
Leicester join the likes of holders Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in Friday’s last eight draw.
« I would like to avoid Leicester City, » Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon told his club’s website after beating Porto on Tuesday.
« They’re a dangerous side, there’s a feel-good factor around the place and they have the ability to hurt you if you take the game to them.
« You have everything to lose against them. »
Things got a bit nervy in the closing moments for Leicester on Tuesday until the final whistle brought on a wild celebration as players and fans savoured another landmark moment in club history.
« It is an unbelievable achievement, » Schmeichel said.
« We have gone out and played more like we did last season and we are reaping the rewards of it now.
« A lot of us have come a long way. I’ve been all the way down in League Two (fourth tier) and to be standing here in the Champions League quarter-finals is incredible. »,,