A 1-1 draw with Atlético Madrid at Leicester City Stadium on Tuesday evening was not enough for the Foxes to advance to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, as they bowed out of the competition with a 2-1 aggregate defeat.
Already a goal down after last week’s first leg in the Spanish capital, Leicester City’s task of was made even more difficult on 26 minutes when Saul Niguez headed home a Felipe Luis cross to open the scoring on Filbert Way.
That prompted Craig Shakespeare, who welcomed back skipper Wes Morgan to the starting XI, to introduce Leonardo Ulloa and Ben Chilwell after the break and switch his side’s set up to a 3-5-2 formation.
It worked, as Chilwell’s deflected effort fell to Jamie Vardy, who side-footed in from close range to level the scores just after the hour mark – the comeback looked on.
City piled on the pressure and were without doubt the better team on the night going forward. But for all their domination, they couldn’t breach the defiant Atléti back line for a second or third time in the game.
It was substitute Ulloa who first came close to netting his side’s second, as the ball dropped to the Argentine frontman at the back post. He met it well with his left foot, only to see his strike cleared off the line.
Vardy found himself in a similar position just a minute later but it was Stefan Savic who this time got in the way of the effort – the England international unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet for a second time on the night.
An intelligent flick from Vardy forced Jan Oblak into a stop with 18 minutes to play and Riyad Mahrez’s 25-yard free kick flew just over shortly after, before Marc Albrighton was unfortunate not to find the back of the net in injury time.
That proved to be the final action of a 2016/17 Champions League that will live long in the memory of everyone involved with Leicester City Football Club.
Heading into the fixture, Leicester City needed only one goal to force the tie to extra-time, while a win by two clear goals would have been enough to see them through.
But when Saul Niguez converted at the back post midway through the first period, the Foxes needed to score three.
Well aware of how good Atléti are defensively, City were tasked with becoming the first team in 22 games to net more than two goals against the La Liga outfit.
While Leonardo Ulloa, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez all had chances to find the back of the net, Atléti stood strong to halt wave after wave of City attacks.
A product of the Leicester City Academy, young left back Ben Chilwell continues to impress at first team level for the Foxes.
It is not just his defensive attributes that have seen him earn plenty of plaudits, but also his ability to drive forward and deliver from the left flank.
He played a major role in Jamie Vardy’s goal and came close twice himself, with one volley in particular flying just inches over the bar.
Facing Atlético Madrid in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League is a huge challenge, but Chilwell looked incredibly comfortable against the Spaniards.
Where do we stand?
The Foxes exit the UEFA Champions League at the round-of-eight stage, but they can be extremely proud of their run in the world’s most prestigious club competition.
From a resounding 3-0 win over Club Brugge back in September right the way through to a historic victory in Leicester against Sevilla in the last-16, City’s swashbuckling style of play saw them become the last English team to be knocked out of the Champions League.
There have been some special nights and some sensational away trips along the way, and while the Foxes’ fairytale campaign has come to an end, it will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Focus for Craig Shakespeare’s men now turns to a tough Premier League trip to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal on Wednesday 26 April (7.45pm kick-off). That clash will be City’s fourth away fixture in their last five outings.