Leicester suffered a shock Europa League exit after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Slavia Prague at the King Power Stadium.
After last week’s 0-0 draw in Prague, Brendan Rodgers’ side still had plenty of work to do but, in the absence of the rested Harvey Barnes and the injured James Maddison, they struggled to find their rhythm on Thursday.
Their task was made even harder as Lukas Provod’s 49th-minute away goal left them with a mountain to climb.
Rodgers sent on Barnes in the 61st minute but the damage had already been done and Abdallah Sima’s strike in the 79th minute rounded off a memorable European night for the Czech side to send them into Friday’s last-16 draw.
After a disappointing night, Leicester’s focus will now switch back to the Premier League where they will look to build on what has already been a promising season and secure a top-four spot and Champions League football, while they still have an FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United to look forward to next month.
5 – Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has been eliminated from all five of his UEFA Europa League knockout ties as a manager (all last 32) – with Liverpool in 2012-13 and 2014-15, Celtic in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and Leicester this season. Disappointment. #UEL pic.twitter.com/mLesa9CHgI
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 25, 2021
Leicester stunned by Slavia Prague…
Leicester struggled for rhythm in the early stages and found chances hard to come by against an organised Slavia Prague side.
They almost gifted the visitors the lead when Sima raced onto Caglar Soyuncu’s poor header, but his shot drifted wide with Kasper Schmeichel scrambling across his goal.
Cengiz Under’s low early drive forced goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar into action but it was Slavia Prague who had the best opening of the first half.
Leicester player ratings
Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Amartey (5), Evans (7), Soyuncu (5), Thomas (6), Tielemans (6), Ndidi (7), Albrighton (6), Choudhury (6), Under (6), Vardy (6).
Subs: Barnes (6), Castagne (6), Pereira (6), Tavares (n/a).
Alexander Bah’s cross picked out an unmarked Jan Kuchta, but he could only head wide just before the break.
Leicester did not heed the first-half warnings and they were punished four minutes into the second half.
Nicolae Stanciu swung a deep cross to the far post where Provod arrived unmarked to steer a smart volley past Schmeichel from seven yards.
Provod’s goal ended Leicester’s run of 234 minutes without conceding in the Europa League.
Needing at least two goals, Rodgers tried to salvage something from the tie with the triple substitution of Timothy Castagne, Ricardo Pereira and Barnes just after the hour mark.
However, it was Slavia Prague who had the final word as Sima found the bottom corner from 25 yards to seal Leicester’s fate.
Leicester team news
Cengiz Under wass handed a rare Leicester start. The Roma loanee came in for the injured James Maddison ahead of the second leg of the last-32 tie at the King Power Stadium. Hamza Choudhury replaced Harvey Barnes, who was on the bench, with Daniel Amartey and Marc Albrighton also starting.
Rodgers takes responsibilty for exit
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers took the blame for the Foxes’ meek Europa League exit to Slavia Prague.
Rodgers, who was missing the injured James Maddison and banned Kelechi Iheanacho, started with 13-goal Harvey Barnes on the bench with Youri Tielemans in a more advanced position but admitted his decisions failed to pay off.
“It’s my responsibility, I pick the team with the players we have available and clearly it didn’t work as well as I would have liked,” he said.
“We have changed the team often enough through the season because we’ve carried injuries all year. The players are coming back from injury, we had to find a way to freshen up the team.
“Overall, they were better than us and deserved to go through. We have to go away and learn from that.
“We started pretty well, we had to be patient, but we never really created too many opportunities. I’m disappointed with the goals, in particular the second one – we have to defend with greater urgency.
“It’s disappointing but I said to the players afterwards we have to learn from it. We can accept it a lot easier as we weren’t good enough on the night and over the two legs.
“We’ll get back in, move on and we’ve enjoyed the European experience and we want to fight this year and be better next year.”
Tripisovsky: ‘Slavia’s win a sporting miracle’
Slavia Prague boss Jindrich Trpisovsky proclaimed his side’s win at Leicester a “sporting miracle”.
said: “The difference between the teams is incredible, it’s a sporting miracle. I would compare us winning here to Leicester winning the league.
“It’s a different league for us. I’ve asked my team to realise what they’ve achieved and I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.
“It was similar to the first game, we got better as the time went on.
“We were able to start attacking more and more. The quality of the pitch was second-to-none for us and we had to get used to it but once we did we got faster.
“Our performance reflected that. Leicester played brilliantly, they were a great team, everything was great and the only thing missing were the fans.”
Opta stats – Leicester’s unbeaten home run in Europe ended
- Leicester suffered their first home defeat in any European competition since September 1997 against Atlético de Madrid in the UEFA Cup, ending a run of nine such matches without defeat (W7 D2).
- Slavia Prague picked up just their second win over an English club in all competitions (also March 2000 v Leeds United), and first away from home in their sixth such visit (D1 L4 previously).
- Slavia Prague won an away knockout stage match in a major European competition (excluding qualifiers) while also keeping a clean sheet for the first time since September 2000, a 2-0 UEFA Cup win over Akademisk Boldklub.
- Lukáš Provod’s goal was Slavia Prague’s first shot on target of the night against Leicester, ending the Foxes’ run of 234 minutes without conceding a goal in the UEFA Europa League.
- Nicolae Stanciu has assisted more goals than any other player for Slavia Prague in this season’s UEFA Europa League (three).
- Abdallah Dipo Sima’s four goals for Slavia Prague is the most by a teenager in this season’s UEFA Europa League.
The draw will take place at midday on Friday, February 26 in Nyon’s House of European Football at 12pm UK time. You will be able to follow it across Sky Sports’ platforms.
- March 11 & 18: Round of 16
- April 8 & 15: Quarter-finals
- April 29 & May 6: Semi-finals
- May 26: Final (Gdansk, Poland)
Leicester host Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday at midday, while Slavia Prague travel to Solvacko in the Czech First League, also on Sunday at 3pm.