Madrid (AFP) – Coach Jorge Sampaoli admitted Sevilla had only themselves to blame after being left to reflect on missed opportunities as Leicester City’s Champions League fairytale continued into the quarter-finals.
Sevilla dominated possession in both legs against the English champions but after missing a penalty in both matches, hitting the woodwork three times and having playmaker Samir Nasri sent-off, Wednesday’s 2-0 second leg loss condemned Sampaoli’s men to a 3-2 aggregate defeat.
“The tie we lost ourselves by not being able to score more goals in Seville,” said Sampaoli.
Having escaped with just a 2-1 defeat from southern Spain three weeks ago, Leicester sacked manager Claudio Ranieri, who had led the minnows to the most unbelievable Premier League triumph just nine months earlier.
His replacement and former assistant Craig Shakespeare has had an immediate impact with three straight wins over Liverpool, Hull City and now Sevilla.
“The two missed penalties damaged us a lot,” added Sampaoli.
“In football everything is determined by the small details. In that aspect we were worse.”
Steven N’Zonzi was Sevilla’s culprit from the spot at the King Power on Wednesday as his tame effort was easily saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
The Dane had also denied Joaquin Correa from the penalty spot during a man-of-the-match performance in the first leg.
However, Sevilla’s yips from the spot are nothing new as they have undermined an excellent first season under Sampaoli.
Sevilla have now failed to convert their last four penalties with six different players having missed from the spot in total this season.
“At this level you can’t miss two penalties in the same tie,” said Sevilla president Pepe Castro.
However, the most stinging criticism was reserved for on-loan Manchester City midfielder Nasri.
The Frenchman fell into Jamie Vardy’s trap as he was goaded into a reaction from the England international 15 minutes from time and shown a second yellow card by Italian referee Daniele Orsato.
“He left his team with 10 men with two hot-headed moments unbecoming of a professional” said Sevilla sports daily Estadio Deportivo in giving Nasri a 0/10 rating.
“The tension of the moment without doubt forced Nasri into making a mistake,” said a more reserved Sampaoli.
The Argentine coach was also himself then sent to the stands having only just returned from serving a two-game European ban for being sent-off against Juventus in November.
Sampaoli had been heavily linked with the vacant position at Barcelona come the end of the season when Luis Enrique’s contract comes to an end.
However, his temperament allied to Sevilla’s dip in form has seen Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde reportedly become Barca’s favoured target.
“I can only think that a dream has escaped me,” concluded Sampaoli.
He may not just have been referring to Sevilla’s Champions League dreams, but his personal ambitions of taking over at the Camp Nou.