For a team playing in the Champions League for the first time, with a coach still in his first weeks at the helm, Leicester played with smartness and discipline in the intimidating atmosphere of the Vicente Calderon stadium.
Only a converted penalty from Antoine Griezmann separated the teams, one that the Frenchman earned after a speedy counter that ended with him brought down very close to the area by Marc Albrighton. If it was a questionable decision, there was no doubt about the outcome: the other two ties had missed penalties in them, but Griezmann, who missed in the Champions League final last season, and up against Kasper Schmeichel, who saved two penalties in the last round against Sevilla, made no mistake.
It was hard not to be reminded of the Sevilla series. In that first leg, Sevilla went ahead, but it was unsure how much to prioritize pushing its home advantage and chasing more goals, over sitting tight to avoid conceding an away goal. Sevilla ended up winning that opening leg 2-1, but Jamie Vardy’s away strike proved crucial.
And so Atletico was stuck in a stick-or-twist dilemma, not wanting to commit too much to the attack, but perfectly happy to keep another clean sheet–now 16 in its last 18 games–safe in the knowledge that if Leicester pushes forward at home, it can attack on the counter.
Atletico only had three shots on target all match, with the best chance to double the lead falling to Fernando Torres, who made a mess of his effort. One worry for Leicester was the booking picked up by Robert Huth, which rules him out of the second leg. With Wes Morgan currently missing through injury, Leicester could end up with an untested center back partnership in the biggest game in its history.
It was the kind of result that left both teams satisfied–and with an intriguing second leg in prospect in six days.