LEICESTER, April 19: Jamie Vardy scored in vain as Leicester City�s Champions League fairytale came to a valiant end following a 1-1 quarterfinal draw at home to Atletico Madrid.
Seeking to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit, Leicester fell further behind to Saul Niguez�s first-half header, before Vardy�s 61st-minute strike gave them hope.
But despite heavy Leicester pressure and furious noise inside the King Power Stadium, Atletico last night completed a 2-1 aggregate win to reach the semifinals for the third time in four seasons.
�We had them rattled with the effort and commitment we showed. It�s no discredit to lose to a team of that calibre,� Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare told BT Sport.
�The whole club, from the supporters to the players to the owners can be immensely proud, but I�ve just said to the players that they should want more of this and they�ve agreed that that�s what they want.�
Leicester had hoped to become the competition�s first debutant semifinalists since Villarreal in 2006, but they were unable to engineer a repeat of their last-16 triumph against Sevilla.
Their exit brings to an end a golden adventure sparked by last season�s stunning Premier League title win.
Having successfully staved off the threat of relegation under new manager Shakespeare, the rest of their season now holds nothing more than a return to pre-title normality. It is the third time Atletico have eliminated Leicester from continental competition, after previous triumphs in the 1961-62 European Cup Winners� Cup and the 1997-98 UEFA Cup.
Beaten by city foes Real Madrid in the 2014 and 2016 finals, Diego Simeone�s side can continue to dream that this will be the year they finally end their wait for European football�s biggest prize.
�I�m full of emotion and pride at the performance of my team,� said Simeone.
�I also have to say, what a great performance from our opponents. It was almost a pleasure to compete against them.� � AFP