Leicester did some serious work for themselves when they came from behind to beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1 on Thursday and seal a place in the Europa Conference League semi-final.
The Foxes wasted in front of goal, but two late goals from James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira were enough to guide them into the final four.
Mario Gotze was a real danger from the start, but it was Leicester who got the first real chance of the game. Jonny Evans was right to take a corner and his header found Wesley Fofana, who did not see the ball coming and saw it ricochet off his head and over the crossbar from close range.
Soon after, Gotze pulled off an excellent save from Kasper Schmeichel, who did well to react to the German’s ferocious volley and deflect it over the crossbar. It was a winger-to-wing opening, with Harvey Barnes failing to convert when he scored PSV’s goal almost immediately afterwards.
The first goal ended up coming from an error by Leicester. Youri Tielemans missed a pass and allowed PSV into goal, and veteran striker Eran Zahavi made no mistake when he fired through Schmeichel and into the lower corner via a deflection.
Maddison came within inches of equalizing as his own deflected shot sailed past Yvon Mvogo and he needed an acrobatic goal-line clearance from Jordan Teze to keep the score level before the break.
Joey Veerman was not far from making it 2-0 after the break. His shot from distance deflected off Wesley Fofana and narrowly missed Schmeichel’s post.
Substitute Patson Daka should have equalized at the hour mark when he burst into goal, but like Barnes in the first half, he could only fire his effort wide.
That extravagance in front of goal almost came back to bite Leicester as Ibrahim Sangare found his way into the box, but the midfielder sent his shot over the crossbar, giving Leicester another lifeline… and they made the most of it.
With 15 minutes remaining, it was Maddison who made the difference for Leicester. The fresh finish from him followed some excellent work from Ayoze Perez, whose cutback gave Maddison the easy job of connecting home.
Perez was about to add a second shortly after, but his shot was instinctively deflected by the impressive Mvogo.
With two minutes remaining, Pereira emerged as Leicester’s savior when he thundered at home to earn Brendan Rodgers’s men a place in the next round.
Kasper Schmeichel (GC) – 5/10 – Top save to deny Zahavi, but probably should have done better with the first match.
Ricardo Pereira (RB) – 7/10 – A bad first part but really impressive after the break. Some good tackles and they appeared with the most important goal.
Wesley Fofana (CB) – 8/10 – Typically awesome. Imposing in the air and ready to throw himself in front of anything. Some unreal pace to stop a Zahavi counterattack.
Jonny Evans (CB) – 6/10 – A minor deviation for the starter, but he showed his experience to kill the game late.
Timothy Castagne (LB) – 5/10 – I couldn’t move forward as well as I used to. Uncomfortable having to do so much defense.
Youri Tielemans (DM) – 4/10 – A really bad decision that almost cost his team. He calmed down after the break, but he was clearly not himself.
James Maddison (CM) – 8/10 – One of the few players who actually searched for this. He was dangerous in his link game and took his goal incredibly well.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (CM) – 7/10 – He took his time getting really involved, but began to run through the proceedings as the game progressed. A good move for the winner.
Marc Albrighton (RW) – 1/10 – Unsurprisingly, he snagged at halftime after a bitterly disappointing first half. He didn’t offer anything and was actually a hindrance at times.
Kelechi Iheanacho (ST) – 6/10 – A creative axis in attack, but continued to struggle in front of goal. Surprisingly removed.
Harvey Barnes (LW) – 3/10 – Joined Albrighton for an early swim after a poor first 45. Should have scored.
Ademola Lookman (IE, 46′ for Barnes) – 5/10 – Too one-dimensional with his cuts on the inside but he finally made a good decision on the play for the second goal.
Patson Daka (ST, 46′ for Albrighton) – 5/10 – I should have scored. as simple as
Ayoze Pérez ST, 65′ for Iheanacho) – 7/10 – A moment of brilliance to save Leicester.