Wembley Glory As City Lift Maiden FA Cup
For Leicester City’s first FA Cup Final in 52 years, manager Brendan Rodgers made one change to the side that beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday, as centre-back Jonny Evans returned to the XI following a short spell out. Winger Marc Albrighton was the man to make way.
Urged on by over 6,000 members of the vociferous Blue Army, who were in full voice throughout, the Foxes first had to be wary of two early runs from Timo Werner into the right-hand channel, one of which saw the striker fire a low ball into the box that Kasper Schmeichel was able to collect. Jamie Vardy replicated a similar move at the other end, with Kepa Arrizabalaga holding onto the cross.
Chelsea enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the first 15 minutes, and only a wayward drive from Antonio Rüdiger threatened the City goal. The travelling Foxes fans continued to chant, and out poured a deep cry of encouragement as Vardy, from inside the opposition box, had a strike blocked after connecting with Timothy Castagne's cross from the right.
The clattering of City supporters' palms crackled through the London air, which soon became hazy with rain as Wesley Fofana made two important interceptions in the space of just 60 seconds to thwart the Chelsea attack. At the opposite end, Çağlar Söyüncü - fresh off scoring the winning goal against Manchester United earlier in the week - nodded a Youri Tielemans free-kick over the bar.
Often the source of creativity for Leicester, Tielemans was on hand midway through the first half to dispossess Marcos Alonso in the 18-yard box before Mason Mount drove a deflected strike wide of the mark.
Shortly after, Tielemans had an attempt of his own halted, as City began to grow into the game, while Werner lifted a strike into the stands and César Azpilicueta came just inches away from connecting with Thiago Silva's delivery to the back post.
Just after the half-hour mark, Rodgers was forced into making his first change of the afternoon as Evans - serenaded by the Blue Army to which he returned a round of applause as he retreated - was unable to continue and on came Albrighton in his place.
Two brilliant blocks from Fofana - earlier booked for an untimely challenge - to deny Werner followed, and then Germany international was shown a yellow card for arriving late on Academy graduate Luke Thomas.
It was Thomas who set up City's next attempt. After Ayoze Pérez earned a free-kick 30 yards from goal, the young left-back delivered a set-play into Söyüncü, who glanced wide of the mark from inside the area.
Fofana, meanwhile, slide in to block a Werner shot as Chelsea looked to capitalise on a counter-attack late in the half. Then, Vardy glanced a Tielemans cross wide while looking for Arrizabalaga's far corner on the stroke of half-time.
City continued to defend well at the start of the second half, with Fofana and Tielemans making crucial interventions to prevent Chelsea from advancing on Schmeichel's goal. Albrighton's searching pass to Vardy, meanwhile, was intercepted by Arrizabalaga before the No.9 could get there.
Denmark stopper Schmeichel, on 53 minutes, was then on hand to hold onto Alonso's header from an N'Golo Kanté cross. A tense affair proceeded to open up at the national stadium, with City peppering the Chelsea box with crosses during a period of sustained possession.
Then came a huge moment that saw the stand housing Leicester City's fans erupt. Pérez won the ball in midfield and Thomas located Tielemans, who arrowed a stunner into the top corner just after the hour mark. It was a wonderstrike worthy of winning any game, not least the FA Cup Final.
Rodgers' men were now tasked with maintaining their clean sheet. Tasked with winning their first FA Cup. Tasked with making the dreams of every Leicester City fan become a reality.
The Northern Irishman's next move was to introduce No.10 James Maddison, who come on in place of Kelechi Iheanacho. Thomas Tuchel, at the same time, switched Hakim Ziyech and Alonso for Christian Pulisic and Ben Chilwell, and with 15 minutes to play replaced Jorginho and Azpilicueta with Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
It was substitute and former Fox Chilwell who, with 12 minutes of normal time remaining, very nearly levelled matters as his header struck the foot of the post and Castagne hooked the rebound clear.
On 82 minutes, a double change for City came as Wes Morgan and Hamza Choudhury were introduced, and Thomas and Pérez's afternoons came to an end. Werner, meanwhile, came off in place of Olivier Giroud.
With Chelsea enjoying plenty of the ball, the Foxes looked to be dangerous on the break and that proved on 85 minutes when Vardy refused to give up a long ball and won a corner off Silva.
The Blues pushed for an equaliser and nearly found one when Mount hit a sweet half-volley towards goal, but a sensational save from Schmeichel denied the England midfielder as the game approached time added on.
But with only 90 seconds of normal time remaining, Chelsea appeared to draw level. A deep cross into the box fell to Chilwell, who took a touch and then found the net via a deflection. However, replays showed the left-back was offside, and VAR disallowed his strike.
In a matter of seconds, heartbreak turned to ecstasy for Leicester, who were just five minutes of added time away from lifting the FA Cup for the first time. They did exactly that, fighting for every ball to help the Club to their second major trophy in five years.
Youri Tielemans celebrates his irresistible winning goal against the Blues.
A cagey opening 45 minutes yielded few goalscoring opportunities, but the second half game to life and included dramatic moments at both ends of the field.
It was Youri Tielemans' stunner that ultimately won it for City, but a huge save from Kasper Schmeichel to turn away Mason Mount's half-volley was equally as important.
Then came a dramatic VAR call in which former City defender Ben Chilwell was denied a late leveller.
The final truly epitomised the path the Club has travelled along in recent years - a simply unbelievable journey.
Speaking on LCFC Radio, Matt Elliot said: "Youri Tielemans deserves a mention, but Wesley Fofana – he was class throughout. He blocked everything and won every challenge. He gets my Man of the Match."
Where do we stand?
The full-time whistle blows at Wembley Stadium as Leicester City are confirmed as winners of the FA Cup.
Leicester City win the FA Cup at the fifth time of asking, and complete England's domestic set of trophies having also won the Premier League and three League Cups.
The Foxes' winning goal came via a brilliant goal from Youri Tielemans.
City next face a second clash with Chelsea in just four days as they head to Stamford Bridge (8:15pm kick-off) for their penultimate Premier League match of 2020/21. Then, on Sunday, they host Tottenham Hotspur at King Power Stadium (4pm kick-off) to round off their campaign.
All times BST.
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