• ‘We might just be the surprise team’ says manager after Foxes reach last eight
• Kasper Schmeichel praises Leicester’s ‘perfect’ plan
Craig Shakespeare hailed one of the greatest nights in Leicester City’s history and expressed his belief that his team could be the surprise package in the Champions League after they defeated Sevilla to reach the quarter-finals.
On a night laced with emotion and full of drama, Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton scored the goals that gave Leicester a 2-0 win and a 3-2 victory on aggregate, to join Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in Friday’s draw for the last eight.
Sevilla, who have won the Europa League in each of the past three seasons, were unable to handle the intensity of Leicester’s play and lost their discipline in the second half. Samir Nasri was sent off after receiving a second yellow card following an altercation with Jamie Vardy, who was also booked after the two squared up.
Jorge Sampaoli, the Sevilla manager, was then dismissed and, in another late twist, Kasper Schmeichel saved Steven N’Zonzi’s penalty, which would have taken the game into extra time had he scored. “When we needed Kasper the most he came up trumps,” said Shakespeare, who was taking charge of his first game since being given the manager’s job until the end of the season. He was caretaker for two games following Claudio Ranieri’s sacking last month.
“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.”
Playing like the side that won the title last season, Leicester made life difficult for Sevilla throughout, with Vardy setting the tone with his aggressive running up front. “Against one of the best teams in Europe we needed to keep cool heads but also show that competitive edge, so the plan was to press high and make it as uncomfortable as possible for Sevilla,” Shakespeare said.
There were wild scenes at the final whistle as the Leicester players celebrated a landmark moment in the club’s history. “It is an unbelievable achievement,” Schmeichel said. “We had a game plan, we stuck to it and it came off perfectly. We always knew they would have a lot of possession.
“First half they played really well but you know you have to defend against a team that keeps the ball like them and we kept them to just a couple of chances.
“It is about confidence. We have gone out and played more like we did last season and we are reaping the rewards of it now. It was a fantastic night.
“A lot of us have come a long way. I’ve been all the way down in League Two and to be standing here in the Champions League quarter-finals is incredible.”