19 Apr 2017

Dream over for Leicester City

9:31 am on 19 April 2017

Leicester City's fairytale Champions League journey came to an end at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico Madrid, who reached the semi-finals for the third time in four seasons with a 2-1 aggregate win.

Leicester City players celebrate.

Leicester City players celebrate. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A first-half goal by Saul Niguez proved enough to ease the Spanish side through to the last four despite Leicester's spirited revival in the second half when Jamie Vardy equalised on the night.

Diego Simeone's side, who won the first leg in Madrid 1-0, had the better of the opening exchanges, but after Leicester finally found their feet, Shinji Okazaki firing over from close range, Saul extended Atletico's overall lead in the 26th minute, heading home powerfully from Filipe Luis's superb cross.

The Premier League champions, in their first Champions League campaign, responded strongly, dominating the second half, and England striker Vardy equalised on 61 minutes after Ben Chilwell's shot was blocked, but it was not quite enough.

Leicester defender Christian Fuchs spoke beforehand about the part the home crowd could play and the wall of noise that greeted kickoff would have shaken less battle-proven opposition than Simeone's Atletico.

The hosts were roared forward and had their first real sight of goal when Vardy reached the byline and his cutback looked perfect for Okazaki but his stumbling effort flew high over the crossbar.

With half an hour remaining Leicester's lifeline arrived in the form of Vardy when the England striker calmly side-footed past Oblak after Chilwell's shot flew across the area.

Suddenly something extraordinary looked possible.

For the first time in the tie Atletico were rattled and Vardy came close to putting Leicester ahead on the night when his goalbound shot in the 68th minute struck the back of Stefan Savic.

Atletico were now content to start counting down the minutes but Leicester refused to accept their journey was almost over.

At times Simeone appeared to want to join the action on the pitch, such were his energy levels on the touchline, gesticulating wildly and imploring his players to stand firm.

They did just that and as the minutes ticked away so did Leicester's belief in another fairytale.