What a day!

F.A. Cup Final 2021 Chelsea 0 Leicester City 1

Kate Thompson reports from inside Wembley..

I was one of the lucky 6,250 fans who got to see Leicester make history, finally winning the trophy that has eluded us for so long.  I wondered if this day would ever come and now it has!  I only live 36 miles from Wembley and drove there; the organisation of the parking was excellent and the pink car park was where all the City coaches were parked.  When I was at Wembley the day before, to do an interview for the BBC, the Chelsea fan with me pointed out a message on the advertising screens congratulating Leicester for winning – surely it had to be an omen!

I didn’t go to the fans’ zone – to be honest I didn’t realise there was one – so just made my way into the ground with my sister and a friend.  The checks went smoothly and there weren’t too many people in the concourse.  We found our seats and our goody bags from the club, and I spent the time before kick-off reading the extensive programme.

The team selection was exactly as I had hoped, perhaps with the exception of Perez; I would have liked to see Praet in that position and am a bit puzzled why he is overlooked.  But who could argue with Rodgers’ selection on today of all days!  What an experience for Luke Thomas, a Leicester boy who has supported the club all his life.  It was a particular relief that Evans had made it, although sadly he only lasted 32 minutes before he had to be substituted.  But it was enough to settle the defence down and Castagne slipped seamlessly into the back four, with Albrighton replacing him as a wing-back.

The first half was a typically cagey affair.  There were no shots on target from either side and fortunately the Chelsea players didn’t have their shooting boots on.  Most of the fans were standing which meant that I had my usual problem of not being able to see everything, especially the end where City were defending in the first half. 

Just before the halfway point in the second half Tielemans scored a wonder goal, which has to go down as one of the best ever scored in an FA Cup final.  Perez cut out a pass from James, which the Chelsea players claimed he handled, and laid the ball off to Thomas; he played into Tielemans who struck an unstoppable shot into the top left-hand corner of the goal – no goalkeeper (well, maybe Schmeichel!) was going to stop that one.

After that, it was backs to the wall stuff.  In the 67th minute Maddison replaced Iheanacho, who had had a disappointing game, and 15 minutes later Thomas and Perez were replaced by Morgan and Choudhury.  It was lovely to see Wes in a City shirt again, probably for the last time, but he inadvertently played a part in the drama at the end, of which more later. 

City were camped in the Chelsea half, defending for their lives, and Schmeichel pulled off two wonder saves to keep us in the game.  Then came the last drama; we all thought Chilwell had scored – it had to be him, of course – but to our delight it was ruled out for offside.  Watching the highlights later, it became clear that Soyuncu had cleared the ball off the line only for it to ricochet off Morgan!  But the football gods were with us for once and VAR was our friend this time. 

Needless to say, when the final whistle went, the Leicester fans went ballistic and I’m afraid covid restrictions were forgotten.  How some fans had managed to smuggle flares into the ground beggars belief, but even I couldn’t be too annoyed on such a day. 

The players were drained at the end but there were some lovely scenes which demonstrated the togetherness of the whole club.  Schmeichel got Top to join the celebrations and it was not just the fans who were in tears.

So, after 72 years of trying – and I only remember the three games in the 1960s – we have finally won the FA Cup.  I was there in 1969 and it was horrible, and I never dreamt I would have to wait another 52 years for the next occasion – but, boy was it worth the wait!  I will never tire of hearing that Leicester City have won the FA Cup and will doubtless watch the goal many, many times!

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta (Hudson-Odoi 74), James, Silva, Rüdiger, Kanté, Jorginho (Havertz 74), Alonso (Chilwell 67), Ziyech (Pulisic 67), Mount, Werner (Giroud 81).

Leicester: Schmeichel, Fofana, Evans (Albrighton 31), Söyüncü, Castaigne, Ndidi, Tielemans, Thomas (Morgan 81), Perez (Choudhury 81), Iheanacho (Maddison 67), Vardy.

 Referee: M. Oliver                                          Attendance: 21,000

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation