London – Leicester City reached the FA Cup final for the first time in more than 50 years as Kelechi Iheanacho’s goal secured a 1-0 win over Southampton at Wembley on Sunday.
A disappointing game was settled 10 minutes after the interval as the in-form Nigerian striker slotted at the second attempt after good work by Jamie Vardy.
Leicester, who have never won the FA Cup and last appeared in the final in 1969, will face Chelsea on May 15.
A crowd of around 4,000, mainly local residents and key workers, were allowed to attend the semi-final as part of a test event for the return of crowds as Covid-19 restrictions ease.
There was precious little for them to get excited about in a dull first half, but the second period was marginally better.
It was no surprise that Iheanacho scored the winner as he has now netted 10 times in his last seven games.
Southampton, who had not conceded a goal in reaching the semi-finals, rarely threatened and failed to force a save out of Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Iheanacho was already the highest-scoring African player in the FA Cup, having overtaken Chelsea’s Didier Drogba (12) by scoring in the 3-1 defeat of Manchester United in the quarter-final.
His 14th in the competition was all about the tenaciousness of Vardy, and a little bit of luck.
Vardy turned well on the left flank and powered forward before cutting a pass back towards Iheanacho who had cleverly found some space in the area.
His first effort, which was going wide, was blocked but the ball came back to him and he side-footed past Fraser Forster.
“It’s amazing for the club who have waited a long time to get to an FA Cup final,” manager Brendan Rodgers said. “We deserved it today, we defended very strong.
“Tight game with so much at stake. You work so hard and it is an opportunity to create history for your club. Concentration was good, defended well when we had to.”
Vardy wasted Leicester’s only real chance before the break after being played in by Youri Tielemans.
After Iheanacho’s goal, Leicester looked comfortable with substitute James Maddision failing to hit the target with a couple of good chances.
The closest Southampton came to an equaliser was an Ibrahima Diallo effort narrowly off target but it was a timid display by the south coast side.
“We left everything on the pitch that was possible for us but we had no shots on target,” Southampton boss Ralph Hassenhuettl said. “We didn’t have a lot of chances in the final third, one or two good moments but it wasn’t enough.
“We saw a not very good football game to be honest with both teams a little nervous.” — Reuters