Home Sports Football FA Cup: Leicester City 1 – 0 Southampton

FA Cup: Leicester City 1 – 0 Southampton

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Leicester City

Leicester City reached their first FA Cup final since 1969 as Kelechi Iheanacho’s second-half goal gave them victory over Southampton at Wembley.

Iheanacho was the beneficiary of fine work by Jamie Vardy to score at the second attempt 10 minutes after the interval.

The game was played in front of 4,000 supporters as part of a pilot scheme, with research being carried out on allowing fans back in to sporting events as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Tickets were limited to residents of Brent – the north London borough where Wembley Stadium is situated – and key workers.

Those inside Wembley witnessed a mainly dour game but Leicester, playing in their first semi-final since 1982, will not care – and neither will their followers.

Southampton were strangely lacking in intensity, barely threatening Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Ibrahima Diallo went closest to an equaliser for the Saints but his powerful drive went just wide.

Brendan Rodgers’ side will now face Chelsea in the final on 15 May, their first appearance in the showpiece since they lost 1-0 against Manchester City in 1969.

Leicester City and manager Brendan Rodgers fully merited their victory as they were much the better team in a low-key semi-final.

They were the more composed and ordered side in a game where chances were at a premium and it took Iheanacho, who scored the winner against Brighton in the fifth round and was on target twice in the 3-1 win against Manchester United in the quarter-final, to make the decisive contribution.

His goal secured a place in the final against Chelsea, who the Foxes beat in the Premier League in January.

And while they will be underdogs, Leicester have enough quality and resilience to be quietly confident.

This FA Cup final appearance is further evidence of the fine work being done by Rodgers, who also has Leicester right in the mix for the Champions League places next season.

Now they have the chance to turn all this endeavour into silverware at Wembley against Thomas Tuchel‘s side.

Southampton will leave Wembley with bitter regrets as they failed to produce anything near their best and can have no complaints about the outcome.

They showed little of the intensity and energy that is their trademark when at their best under manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The Saints lacked ambition and positive intent apart from a brief revival a couple of minutes after Leicester scored, when Diallo was not far off target and there was a scramble after a corner.

Main marksman Danny Ings cut a frustrated figure, starved of service and reduced mainly to chasing lost causes.

This will be a real blow to Southampton, who fancied their chances in the FA Cup this season and had a big opportunity to reach the final, but they came up short and must now return to ensuring their Premier League status.

This was the biggest crowd at a football match in England since the country went into lockdown in March last year – and what a glorious sound it was as the Leicester and Southampton players came out to cheers from 4,000 fans inside Wembley, reciprocating the gesture as they lined up before kick-off.

It did not have the partisanship and passion of the tradition football crowd because this was a test and research event with only locals and key workers in attendance.

There were moments, however, especially when Leicester scored and when Southampton substitute Theo Walcott came on to a very loud, mixed reception – presumably from Arsenal fans inside Wembley who idolised him from his time with the Gunners and Tottenham supporters who took the opposite view.

There were resounding cheers when the supporters were thanked over the public address system for their attendance and the hope is that this test event will help navigate a route out of the behind-closed-doors occasions that have been the way of things during lockdown.

The sight and sound of fans added to the spectacle, even when most of those watching this FA Cup semi-final were neutrals.

-BBC

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