Claudio Ranieri praised his players for showing “big heart” to fight back and keep alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the CL after Jamie Vardy scored a crucial away goal in a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla.
They were outplayed for so much of the match and trailed to goals from Pablo Sarabia and Joaquín Correa on a night when Kasper Schmeichel was outstanding and made a number of superb saves, including keeping out a first-half penalty. But Leicester departed Spain in positive mood after Vardy’s goal totally changed the complexion of the tie. It was the England international’s first in the Champions League and only his sixth of the season for Leicester but could not have been better timed. Jamie Vardy gave Leicester City late hope with goal in 2-1 defeat after Sevilla had dominated Champions League last-16 first leg
“The first half was very tough, we were a little scared, nobody wanted to show for the ball and Kasper kept the team alive, saving the penalty and some shots,” Ranieri said. “The second half was much better and we believed we could do something good. When we played our football in our good moment they scored the second goal, but we didn’t give up and then we went back and scored a goal that was important for three things: it gave strength to us, Vardy goes back to scoring, and it reopens the match in the second leg.”
Sevilla dominated possession to such an extent that Samir Nasri and Steven N’Zonzi completed more passes than the entire Leicester team.
“We know they are better than us, a very high-quality team, a lot of experience,” Ranieri said. “But we have a very big heart, very big effort, we helped each other and I think we deserved this goal. I think we are still the underdogs because they have high quality .”