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Leicester City's Champions League Dream Survives Another Round

Photo credit: Rui Vieira/AP

That’s Wes Morgan up there leaning into his “Captain Morgan” nickname, peering through a mimed telescope after scoring Leicester City’s opening goal against Sevilla and seeing that indeed, his rowdy bunch of scalawags were right on course to make it to the Champions League quarterfinals.

Despite being at home and enjoying a favorable first-leg result (a 2-1 loss), Leicester upset the odds by getting past Sevilla today. Leicester have been trash for the vast majority of this season. Their sorry play has them slumming it near the bottom of the same Premier League table they topped just a season ago, got their beloved title-masterminding manager fired, and probably should’ve seen their Champions League hopes killed off in the first leg of this tie when a thoroughly dominant Sevilla couldn’t find enough luck to win by a greater margin. Even with a new manager and some improved domestic performances, the smart money was on Sevilla coming into town and finishing the job they started a couple weeks ago.


Not that Leicester are at all bothered by being underestimated, of course. The Foxes put on a strong show all match long, one more befitting of their status as England’s reigning champions and one of the 16 remaining participants in the world’s preeminent soccer competition. Leicester drew first blood in the 27th minute on a set piece cross that found their captain’s knee:

They doubled the lead less than 10 minutes into the second half with a couple composed touches and a cool finish from Marc Albrighton:


Even with the lead, the game didn’t that safe until Jamie Vardy’s late heroics. Not by way of his own scoring prowess, mind you, but the sneaky way he baited Sevilla’s Samir Nasri into a second yellow card and expulsion. It really was some diabolically genius stuff:


Vardy actually instigated the whole thing. First he gives Nasri a couple good shoves, then starts shouting in the Frenchman’s face. The key moment is when Nasri approaches Vardy and Vardy leans his forehead forward a little, giving the impression that he’s welcoming Nasri in for the whole Angry Guys Press Foreheads And Yell At Each Other thing. Right as Nasri goes to put his forehead against Vardy’s, Vardy flops as if Nasri had just smashed into his skull. The ref sees this and gives Nasri his second yellow. The work of a master.

Sevilla were always going to have a tough go of it once Nasri got sent off. With Leicester leading 2-0, one Sevilla goal only would’ve brought on extra time, where you’d figure that Leicester, a man up, would find the winner anyway. Sevilla did win a penalty, but keeper Kasper Schmeichel saved it and Leicester hung on to win.


And so continues the legend of Leicester City. This Champions League run isn’t as impressive as their title-winning campaign last season, and probably wouldn’t be even if the Foxes somehow fluked their way into winning the whole thing. (It’s not like we haven’t seen extremely lucky, under-talented European champions before.) Still, what Leicester are doing in this tournament is plenty insane, and we’re going to enjoy watching to see just how far this band of miracle workers can take it.

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