LEICESTER, ENGLAND – Shinji Okazaki’s Leicester City continued its dream debut in the Champions League by beating Sevilla 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals on Tuesday night, advancing 3-2 on aggregate.
The Foxes faced the difficult task of overturning a 2-1 first-leg defeat away in Spain that spelled the end for Claudio Ranieri, the manager who had steered them into the Champions League after winning the Premier League title against all the odds last season.
But Leicester, enjoying a transformation under Craig Shakespeare, took the lead when captain Wes Morgan bundled the team in front at the back post after 27 minutes.
Okazaki played an indirect part in the second, his shot breaking loose before the ball eventually came to Marc Albrighton to drill home and extend Leicester’s advantage in the 54th.
Sevilla had Samir Nasri sent off and Kasper Schmeichel saved a penalty from Steven N’Zonzi as Leicester held on to put its name in Friday’s quarterfinal draw.
Despite not scoring, Okazaki played a key role as Leicester made its intentions known with an energetic, high-pressing approach from early on.
“I think my play was effective,” said Okazaki, who started the game before making way for Islam Slimani on 64 minutes. “I’ve responded with a contribution to the team. I pressed forward when we looked like we might lose our focus and tried not to allow our opponents any breathing space.”
Shakespeare, who was taking charge of his first game as permanent manager, told lcfc.com: “I was very pleased (with the players). Of course 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.
“We also needed to show a competitive edge and I think we showed that from the first minute. I think we set our stall out really well from the first minute. That was the game plan, to try to make it as uncomfortable as we could for Sevilla. We didn’t want them playing their passing game and you could see that from the first minute.”
Juventus eases through
Turin, Italy – Paulo Dybala’s penalty set Juventus on its way to a 1-0 win over 10-man Porto on Tuesday and a place in the Champions League quarterfinals.
A day after he said it was his “dream” to score past veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Dybala converted from the spot in the 42nd minute after Maxi Pereira was sent off for handling the ball on the goal line.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side progressed from the Round of 16 with a 3-0 victory on aggregate and maintained its impressive record at the Juventus Stadium.
“I have to congratulate the lads for passing the round, as it wasn’t easy,” Allegri said. “We had a good first half, we controlled the ball well and didn’t concede. Then once we went ahead, once they went a man down, we only half played the second period and we need to improve on that.”
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon said he was keen to avoid Leicester in the next round after the English champion beat Sevilla 2-0 in the night’s other match to advance 3-2 on aggregate.
However, Allegri was unconcerned about Juve’s prospective opponents.
“Who we draw, we’ll play and good night,” he said. “Anyway, we want to get to the end, so we have to play them all.”
Once again, Porto was undone by a red card. Alex Telles was sent off in the first leg, when it still took Juventus until the 72nd minute to break the deadlock.
“Without doubt, the sending off in both matches affected us,” Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo said. “We didn’t concede any goals when we had the same number of players, there remains the doubt whether we would have if we had remained in 11 in both matches.
“I knew it would be almost impossible to score three goals against Juventus with a player less. It would have been nice to get a goal, I think we deserved it . . . and it would have been a just reward.”