SEVILLE, Spain (Reuters) - Jamie Vardy scored his first goal in the Champions League to give Leicester City some hope of staying in Europe’s elite competition despite a 2-1 loss to an utterly dominant Sevilla in Wednesday’s last-16 first leg.
Pablo Sarabia headed the hosts into a deserved lead in the 25th minute after Kasper Schmeichel had saved Joaquin Correa’s penalty. Argentine forward Correa made amends by netting in the 62nd after inspired play from Stevan Jovetic.
Leicester were outplayed by the home side, who had 80 percent of possession in the first half, and it took a number of brilliant saves from Schmeichel to keep them in the game, while Sevilla’s Vitolo hit the inside of the post.
Vardy made the most of a rare attacking opportunity for the struggling English champions by blasting in a cross from Danny Drinkwater from close range in the 73rd minute and Claudio Ranieri’s side were fortunate not to concede late on when Adil Rami’s header smashed against the crossbar.
Ranieri admitted before the game that Sevilla were the superior outfit and it was difficult to argue with that statement as the hosts dictated the first half, monopolising possession and frequently piling forward with purpose.
Sarabia had their first shot at goal less than five minutes into the game while Christian Fuchs nearly headed the ball into his own net as he stooped to clear the danger, forcing the first of many interventions from Schmeichel.
The Dane got his side out of jail by guessing the right way and catching Correa’s penalty after the Argentine had been felled by a lumbering challenge from Leicester captain Wes Morgan, and he was quickly down again to repel a shot from Sergio Escudero.
There was little Schmeichel could do about the opening goal which was set up by a brilliant cross from Escudero and powered into the far corner by Sarabia, and he was called into action twice more before the break to deny Jovetic and Correa.
Sevilla’s intensity dropped a couple of notches after the break but they still looked far more dangerous than Leicester who are a shadow of the team that won the Premier League title last season with two games to spare.
Vitolo came close to doubling Sevilla’s lead when he sent the ball rolling off the inside of the post and Correa got the second goal after Jovetic had carried the ball into the box with a combination of stylish flicks and headers.
Sevilla’s class looked to have shone through but Vardy’s first goal since December gives Leicester a fighting chance for the second leg at home on March 14.
Editing by Clare Fallon