Updated at 22.00
JAMIE VARDY SCORED in vain as Leicester City’s Champions League fairytale came to a valiant end following a 1-1 quarter-final draw at home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
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 completed a 2-1 aggregate win to reach the semi-finals for the third time in four seasons.
Leicester had hoped to become the competition’s first debutant semi-finalists 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 Craig 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.
Leicester’s desire to make the most of the occasion was clear from the start, pyrotechnic bursts greeting the players as they emerged while fans twirled blue, white and gold foil flags distributed by the club.
But whereas Leicester had quickly taken charge of their second-leg match against Sevilla in the previous round, Atletico made it clear they would not be pushed around like their compatriots.