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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Vardy strike offers Leicester hope, Juventus close in on quarters

PHOTOS: Vardy strike offers Leicester hope, Juventus close in on quarters

February 23, 2017 10:24 IST

Images from the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg matches on Wednesday night:

Vardy strike offers hope to embattled Leicester

IMAGE: Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring the first goal for Leicester City. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

Jamie Vardy scored his first goal in the Champions League to give Leicester City some hope of staying in Europe's elite competition despite a 2-1 loss to an utterly dominant Sevilla in Wednesday's last-16 first leg.

Pablo Sarabia headed the hosts into a deserved lead in the 25th minute after Kasper Schmeichel had saved Joaquin Correa's penalty. Argentine forward Correa made amends by netting in the 62nd after inspired play from Stevan Jovetic.

Leicester were outplayed by the home side, who had 80 percent of possession in the first half, and it took a number of brilliant saves from Schmeichel to keep them in the game, while Sevilla's Vitolo hit the inside of the post.

Vardy made the most of a rare attacking opportunity for the struggling English champions by blasting in a cross from Danny Drinkwater from close range in the 73rd minute and Claudio Ranieri's side were fortunate not to concede late on when Adil Rami's header smashed against the crossbar.

Ranieri admitted before the game that Sevilla were the superior outfit and it was difficult to argue with that statement as the hosts dictated the first half, monopolising possession and frequently piling forward with purpose.

IMAGE: Sevilla's players celebrate a goal. Photograph: Paul Hanna/Reuters

Sarabia had their first shot at goal less than five minutes into the game while Christian Fuchs nearly headed the ball into his own net as he stooped to clear the danger, forcing the first of many interventions from Schmeichel.

The Dane got his side out of jail by guessing the right way and catching Correa's penalty after the Argentine had been felled by a lumbering challenge from Leicester captain Wes Morgan, and he was quickly down again to repel a shot from Sergio Escudero.

There was little Schmeichel could do about the opening goal which was set up by a brilliant cross from Escudero and powered into the far corner by Sarabia, and he was called into action twice more before the break to deny Jovetic and Correa.

Sevilla's intensity dropped a couple of notches after the break but they still looked far more dangerous than Leicester who are a shadow of the team that won the Premier League title last season with two games to spare.

Vitolo came close to doubling Sevilla's lead when he sent the ball rolling off the inside of the post and Correa got the second goal after Jovetic had carried the ball into the box with a combination of stylish flicks and headers.

Sevilla's class looked to have shone through but Vardy's first goal since December gives Leicester a fighting chance for the second leg at home on March 14.

Juventus close in on quarters as substitutes see off Porto

IMAGE: Juventus players celebrate winning the match against Porto. Photograph: Miguel Vidal/Reuters

Juventus edged closer to the Champions League quarter-finals after second-half goals from substitutes Marko Pjaca and Dani Alves earned them a 2-0 away win at 10-man Porto in a one-sided last 16 first-leg tie on Wednesday.

Porto's downfall was partly self-inflicted after left back Alex Telles received a red card in the 27th minute following two senseless bookings in the space of 90 seconds, leaving the home side to play over an hour against the Serie A leaders with 10 men.

Despite holding Juventus at bay for 72 minutes, Porto's resolve was broken when Miguel Layun deflected Paulo Dybala's pass into the path of Pjaca who slammed a first-time effort past Iker Casillas.

Dani Alves made sure of victory two minutes later when he controlled Alex Sandro's cross with his chest before finishing calmly as Juventus, who are still in the Italian Cup, boosted their hopes of a maiden treble ahead of the second leg in Turin on March 14.

"We can be happy as it's a really good result, but to be honest after the first-half red card, we had to win this game," Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira told BT Sport.

"It's absolutely not over," he added. "We're happy with tonight but in three weeks we'll need to be careful as Porto are angry and have nothing to lose."

IMAGE: Sami Khedira of Juventus, right, tries to head the ball past Porto's Tiquinho Soares. Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

Juventus were expected to face a stern test in Portugal, but while they imposed themselves from the early stages and controlled the first half, Porto were content to remain deep and absorb pressure.

The visitors struggled to forge the clear openings that their dominance deserved, although the lively Dybala fashioned the best chance of the first half with a thumping effort from outside the box which grazed the post.

Telles's minute and a half of madness quashed any lingering Porto ambition and prompted coach Nuno Espirito Santo to withdraw striker Andre Silva -- scorer of four Champions League goals this season -- in response.

Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri left out Leonardo Bonucci from the squad, after the pair's dispute during Friday's victory over Palermo, and while Juventus were untested at the back, they missed the centre back's creativity and probing long balls.

The breakthrough eventually came from the bench, as Allegri introduced Pjaca and Dani Alves to offer dynamism and directness and the pair repaid their manager with goals to end Porto's 20-game undefeated home streak.

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