SEVILLE: Leicester City, showing long-awaited glimpses of last season’s spirit and effort, conceded only a 2-1 defeat away to Sevilla in the Champions League second round first leg.
The Foxes were outclassed in the first half but raised their game effectively after the break. Jamie Vardy’s first goal of the year cut into a lead established for the Europa League holders by Pablo Sarabia and Joaquin Correa.
Sevilla may regret Correa’s early failure to beat Kasper Schmeichel from the penalty spot.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri had confessed his own bemusement at the poor form which has seen the Foxes crash to one point above the relegation zone after six defeats in their previous eight games including an FA Cup exit.
But the match situation gave him some hope. Leicester achieved their miracle last season by soaking up pressure and hitting opponents at pace on the break.
The portents were not bright. Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico has had not conceded a goal in 289 minutes and had only let in three goals in the Champions League; Leicester had scored only two goals in their last five away matches in all competitions.
Leicester had an early escape. Skipper Wes Morgan conceded a 13th-minute penalty with a poor tackle on Correa. Fortunately for Leicester the midfielder shot soft and low to the right of keeper Schmeichel who not only saved but hung on to the ball.
Respite lasted only 10 minutes before Leicester went behind. Sergio Escudero whipped in a left-wing cross, Christian Fuchs misjudged the flight and Sarabia rose above him to head home.
Schmeichel defied Correa again, Ranieri – his job clearly on the line this week – used an injury break for an impromptu team talk and Leicester managed to reach half-time without further damage.
The Foxes had not managed one shot either on or off target in the first half but Musa put that right early in the second half. Otherwise Sevilla maintained their domination of possession, loanee Stefan Jovetic surged forward and Correa made amends for his penalty blunder by stabbing a second Sevilla goal.
Remarkably, then, Leicester pulled one goal back with Jamie Vardy’s first goal of the season after a breakthrough on the left and cross from Danny Drinkwater, the Foxes’ best player. Remarkably, relegation-threatened Leicester were still very much in the tie.
** Juventus won 2-0 away to FC Porto with goals from Marko Pjana and Daniel Alves.