Craig Shakespeare admitted he was “immensely proud” after Leicester’s Champions League adventure finally came to an end.
Jamie Vardy threatened to kick-start another sensational night with a second-half goal but Atlético Madrid survived a late bombardment to reach the last four 2-1 on aggregate. Leicester have exited Europe with an unbeaten home record, in their first participation in the competition, with Atlético manager Diego Simeone admitting his team were “living in fear”.
And Shakespeare insisted his players are on a mission to make a swift return after their spirited performance.
“I think the whole club can be proud of this campaign, but we should want more nights like this. We’ve got to aspire for it,” he said. “We can be immensely proud but the players are ultimately very disappointed to go out. We had them rattled at times and it’s no discredit to lose to a team of that calibre.
“The whole club from the supporters, owners and players should be immensely proud but they should want more of this and the players have agreed to a man that is what they want.”
Leicester went into the game 1-0 down from the first leg and Saúl Ñíguez’s 26th-minute header appeared to put Atlético in control.
But Shakespeare’s bold changes at half-time, switching to a back three and introducing striker Leonardo Ulloa to adopt a more direct approach, swung the game dramatically with Vardy scoring from close range.
Vardy, Ulloa and Ben Chilwell had chances to add a second but Leicester could not find the two goals required to pull off a remarkable win.
Vardy said: “We absolutely gave it our all, especially in the second half. They made a lot of blocks on the line.
“We were in the ascendant but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. We gave it our all and left it all out on the pitch.
“On another day some could have gone in, but we can be proud. We knew it was going to be hard. Every game so far has been the same. From the display you’ve seen it was a fantastic effort.
“We have some unfinished business in the Premier League. That was a new experience for a lot of the lads and we have given it our all.”
Atlético have now reached their third semi-final in four years but Simeone paid tribute to Leicester, who recorded four wins and a draw from their Champions League home games. He made a point of shaking the hands of Leicester’s players at the final whistle.
“It was a pleasure to play against them, they never gave up. We were living in fear all night over what they might achieve and they pushed us all the way,” he said.
“I’m full of emotion, full of pride for my team. I’m also full of hope as we progress further into the competition.
“Looking back at the first day I arrived, I said I wanted to make Atlético competitive and hard to play against and we have done that.”