Atletico Madrid Crash Leicester Out of Champions League

Leicester City’s Champions League adventure ended in disappointment as they were edged out by Atletico Madrid at the quarter-final stage at the King Power Stadium.

Atletico entered the second leg protecting a one-goal advantage from the match in Madrid – and extended it with a precious away goal when Saul Niguez sent a low 26th-minute header across Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel.

It left Leicester needing three second half goals, and even though they responded with splendid defiance when Jamie Vardy got an equaliser at the far post just after the hour mark, the task ultimately proved too much.

Leicester kept battling until the end as Atletico survived several scrambles, but the La Liga superpower held on and the Premier League’s interest in the tournament ended.

Leicester City have gained huge credit and credibility in making their way to the last eight of the Champions League as England’s last surviving representatives.

BBC reports that even in defeat over two legs to this battle-hardened Atletico Madrid side – twice losing finalists in recent seasons – the Foxes can be proud of another monumental effort that just came up short.

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Craig Shakespeare’s side were second best as Atletico looked a cut above for the first 45 minutes to lead through Niguez’s header, which left Leicester needing those three goals against a miserly defence.

The hosts could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel but instead came out fighting, invigorated by Shakespeare’s positive half-time changes. He sent on Ben Chilwell and Leonardo Ulloa for Shinji Okazaki and defender Yohan Benalouane, flooding Vardy with greater support.

Vardy’s goal was no more than they deserved and for a time they had Atletico rocking, giving the King Power Stadium belief that another miracle was on the cards. They almost added a second in goalmouth scrambles, especially when Stefan Savic blocked Vardy’s goal-bound shot.

In the final reckoning, the lack of an away goal and a controversial first-leg penalty scored by Antoine Griezmann left them with a hurdle that was just too tough to surmount.

There was disappointment inside the King Power Stadium at the final whistle but it was masked by a fully deserved standing ovation for Leicester’s players.

When last season’s Premier League champions started their Champions League journey, many believed reaching the knockout phase would represent success – so once again they defied the odds.

Atletico Madrid are a side built in the image and likeness of their manager Diego Simeone – talented, uncompromising and streetwise.

And in the end it was that combination of qualities that made it just too tough for Leicester City to take their journey a step further into the last four.

Atletico showed their quality in the first half to score that crucial away goal, then demonstrated the resilience that has taken them to two Champions League finals in 2014 and 2016 [both lost to arch-rivals Real Madrid].

It needed a mixture of defiance and desperation but in the end it was enough to send them into another Champions League semi-final.

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