Leicester City have earned a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid but it is not enough for the Foxes to avoid bowing out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
Saul Niguez’s first-half opener left Leicester needing three goals to remain in the tie and although they threw everything at Diego Simeone’s team after the break, they could not add to Jamie Vardy’s equaliser just after the hour mark.
Their exit marks the end of a fairytale which had been carried over from last season’s Premier League triumph, but there will be nothing but pride from their supporters after an outstanding second-half effort rattled the third best team in Spain.
At the Vicente Calderon last week, Leicester failed to register a shot on target and it soon become evident that they would endure a similar struggle in the East Midlands as Atletico remained composed in a partisan atmosphere.
The first shot of the match came from Saul, who dragged a 25-yard effort wide of Kasper Schmeichel’s post, before Shinjo Okazaki fired over the Foxes after meeting Vardy’s pass inside the penalty area.
Leicester were enjoying their best spell of the match but Atletico effectively ended the tie as a contest in the 26th minute through Saul, who headed Filipe Luis’s delivery back across goal and into the far corner.
Saul was enjoying a fine game for the Spanish side and a first-time effort from distance forced Schmeichel into a save, but Leicester were able to record one of their own as a Riyad Mahrez volley went straight at Jan Oblak.
Just before half time, Leicester were given a let-off when Schmeichel brought down Yannick Carrasco in the penalty area, but neither the referee, assistant or official behind the goal – who was standing close to the incident – noticed that the Dane tripped the winger before winning the ball.
Craig Shakespeare introduced both Ben Chilwell and Leonardo Ulloa at the break and the switch to 3-4-3 caused all kinds of problems for an Atletico defence which, all of a sudden, looked ordinary.
Leicester were lucky to survive a run from the halfway line from Antoine Griezmann, but they were soon up the other end of the pitch with Chilwell volleying marginally over from 16 yards.
The pressure continued to come from the home side and in the 61st minute, they had their equaliser through Vardy, who lashed the ball into the roof of the net from six yards after Chilwell had seen another volley blocked.
The King Power was rocking and Leicester came agonisingly close to lifting the roof off their home stadium when both Ulloa and Vardy saw goalbound efforts desperately blocked by Atletico defenders.
Vardy had a flick comfortably saved by Oblak and Mahrez whipped a free kick from 20 yards just over the crossbar, but Leicester still could not find another way through a packed Atletico backline.
The Premier League side gradually ran out of steam after an energy-sapping second half, but while they could not continue their run in the competition, they ended one of sport’s greatest stories with a performance which will provide them with hope that this does not have to be their one and only appearance at European football’s top table.
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