Great to be back

Leicester City 2 v Tottenham Hotspur 4

Report from the King Power Stadium by Ian Bason

After 14 months away, my mindset as I drove to my usual parking spot was to enjoy the day, getting to see the FA Cup trophy in person and not worry about events away from the ground which would be more likely to determine if we played in the Champions League next season.

So a familiar path trod over many seasons, past where a Fox seller would usually be (I subscribed this season as I imagine many usual match purchases did), past the long established not official merchandise seller, doing a fine trade just after 2pm with an FA Cup Winners range and good to see my usual matchday programme seller.

Having had my ticket checked just past the Fan Store, I then did my usual circuit of the ground to chat to my Dad’s brick, annoying still hard to access behind a food outlet, however there was much to catch up on, he had only seen a further 10 years of not reaching the FA Cup final, I doubt he would have expected a further 42 years before making another final, yet alone win it.

After entry into the ground at 2.30pm, I was pleased to settle in my seat which was only 1 row below and 4 seats along from where I have sat since the stadium opened. While some who usually sit close to me would have been at Wembley, I managed to speak to a couple and see 3 more from a distance, however the usual “in depth” discussion of the starting line-up was a noticeable missing element.

A quick glance at the programme, a nice touch that Brendan’s column consisted of a list of every staff member who all contributed to the successful season. Then the players were out for the warm- up, so finally got to see Fofana, Castagne and Thomas in person.

There appeared to be a few tweaks to the warm-up routines, but the most noticeable element was the finishing of Tielemans who netted all bar one shot, unlike the strikers who failed to convert many.

Having watched a new montage of this season’s goals, the more familiar one appeared on our screens, perhaps Birchy’s goal was a slightly longer distance than Youri’s FA Cup winner.

The match had a lively start before settling down with City having the majority of possession, just after a quarter of an hour, Vardy tumbled in the box, ref Taylor waved away the appeals, and play continued for a couple of minutes, but Vardy looked to be so angry that the penalty wasn’t given, that when the ball went out of play and VAR kicked in, I was convinced a penalty would be awarded and so it proved with Vardy convincingly converting it.

No one around me was monitoring the other scores, but with no crowd positive reactions for the rest of the half, I assumed the other results weren’t going our way.

On the pitch, Luke Thomas was impressing me, making me wonder if an additional left back was starting to go down the priorities of the summer shopping list. Fofana had looked good too, until suddenly he was on the floor and couldn’t continue.

The choice of Mendy to replace him was a clear indication that Wes couldn’t last 60 minutes and I was instantly worried about set pieces which we struggled with in the early part of the season when Ndidi played centre half, as we had one less player on the pitch in Mendy who could compete for any high balls, that soon proved to be the case.

It was a strange experience, complete silence when Kane scored, what was his inevitable goal against us to equalise. I do think it was the correct decision for each club to maximise home support attendance for the 2 sets of fixtures, but it clearly demonstrated why the game isn’t the same without 2 sets of fans. This also worked against creating atmosphere as the lack of banter chants between the rival fans meant the only frequently used one was the predictable 3rd in a 2 horse race.

The flatness of the crowd was soon lifted as news of Villa taking the lead spread just before the half time whistle.

At half time we had the first trophy celebration as the LCFC Women’s team walked around the perimeter of the pitch, as they were not allowed to enter the pitch which was a red zone under Covid venue restrictions, displaying the trophy of their title win which means they will play in the top tier WSL next season.

An unchanged team came out for the 2nd half, not unexpected as Brendan rarely makes changes that early and we had already had the one enforced change. Not long into the 2nd half and we were awarded a fairly obvious penalty when Vardy had his arm pulled by Sanchez, and Vardy coolly converted to take us back into the lead. Another noticeable roar in the crowd soon followed, I wasn’t sure whether this meant Villa has scored a second or Palace had equalised, the former proving to be the case.

Probably with both factors in mind, just after the hour Ricardo replaced Maddison to give a more defensive set of wider players. I thought Maddison looked well short of his best and often quite frustrated, certainly Tielemans is the clear boss in the centre and set pieces now.

Once Bale and Moura came on, Spurs got more of a grip of the game, however the equaliser was down to another failure to handle a corner, whether Kasper would have attempted a punch if we hadn’t lacked height in the box only he will know.

As Liverpool were now 2 up, a draw was not good enough even if Chelsea lost, so we had to chase a 3rd with Perez replacing Albrighton, but in pursuing the winner, gaps were appearing at the back and the experience of Kane & Bale exploited it to the full, conceding 2 late goals.

So it became quite a flat end to the season, probably more so knowing that Chelsea had lost and we had missed a golden opportunity of a return to the Champions League.

This meant the FA Cup parade and presentations by Top to Youri as player of the season and goodbyes to Fuchs and the playing career of Wes were more muted. Certainly the image of the season will be from Wembley withTop holding and looking into the FA Cup with clear thoughts of his Dad.

While we will have to wait and see what impact missing out does on summer transfer activity, hopefully European football will mean we retain all the players Brendan wants. It means the financial rewards for another European adventure are significantly less, however if the owners aim is to “win things” we are far more likely to succeed in the Europa League and another year’s exposure to European football can only make us stronger when (and not if) we do return into Europe’s top competition.

Winning the FA Cup was always my dream result, so I need a new one and given previous comments made and then Andrea Agnelli’s lead role in the ESL proposal, playing and knocking out Juventus has become my next target, perhaps they will fall into the Europa League next season, I’m sure we would all give him a “welcome” to the King Power.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Castagne, Fofana, Soyuncu: Albrighton, Ndidi, Tielemans, Thomas: Maddison, Vardy, Iheanacho. Subs: Ward, Ricardo, Morgan, Amartey, Fuchs, Choudhury, Mendy, Praet, Perez.

Tottenham Hotspurs: Lloris; Doherty, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Winks, Alli; Bergwijn, Son, Kane. Subs: Hart, Rodon, Dier, John, Lamela, Bale, Lucas, Scarlett, Vinicius

Referee: Anthony Taylor               Attendance 8,000

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

City fail to walk through the door that Villa opened for them.

Leicester City 2 v Tottenham Hotspur 4

King Power Stadium 23 May 2021

Report from home by Colin Murrant

On a topsy turvy end of season Sunday, City ultimately failed to take the opportunity of reaching the promised land of The Champions League. With Villa beating Chelsea, City twice squandered a lead that would have given them the three points and qualification to Europe’s premier club competition.  City have now finished 5th in both of the last two seasons, with the same four teams finishing above them. It is clear that City are a considerable force in the EPL but, as yet, cannot quite hold onto a position in the top four of the League, a position that they have occupied in the table more than any other team over the course of the last two seasons.

City took to the pitch in next year’s kit, a most welcome return to the traditional white shorts and blue socks, and a new sponsor ‘FBS’ on the shirt. There were no surprises in the starting eleven selection although it was nice to see Morgan and Fuchs on the bench for one last time: a bench showing a host of defenders and midfielders. But, best of all, 8,000 City fans were in attendance, the first in the stadium since 9th March 2020.

The match started brightly and City’s first chance came on eight minutes when a corner kick found Soyuncu in space at the far post but his header was weak and Lloris saved comfortably. Soon afterwards Ndidi fed Maddison and his shot was cleared for another corner; as the ball came in from the corner, Soyuncu blocked off Winks and a free kick was awarded.

City didn’t have long to wait to take the lead. Vardy received the ball on the left and cut across the box; as he passed Alderweireld the striker went down and referee Taylor waved away the appeals.

It was left to VAR to review, and the referee was advised to check the VAR monitor. The review was quick in City’s favour and Vardy himself took the kick and put City ahead and up to third in the table.

Immediately after the match is not the time to reflect on City’s failure to achieve all of their ambitions, but injuries have probably been the most decisive issue and ill fortune was about to strike again. This time it was Fofana who was injured, there was no obvious reason for him being down on the grass but he was very emotional and it was clear he could not continue. This resulted in Ndidi falling back and Mendy coming into midfield.

City were less in control now but on 28 minutes Reguilon misplaced a pass and Iheanacho intercepted and was clear in the box but he slipped and fluffed his lines with a wild shot: his blushes were saved when it was confirmed he handled the ball when controlling it. Then Spurs went close when the ball found Son on the edge of the 6-yard box, with his back to goal he tried to find Kane but Soyuncu made a smart interception at the expense of a corner.

On 38 minutes, TV confirmed Mane had scored for Liverpool which left City in 4th place but it felt the real interest was what was happening at Villa Park and, from where, there was no news.

Shortly afterwards, City were back in 5th place as Spurs won a corner. The corner kick reached Reguilon whose cross hit the back of Ndidi and looped up to Son, he crossed back to Kane who volleyed past Schmeichel. Not only was this a blow to City but it was Kane’s 16th goal in 15 games against City, it was also a goal that was to win Kane the Golden Boot again.

Just before half-time City spirits were lifted again as TV brought news from Villa Park that Traore had scored against Chelsea; City were now level with Chelsea but had a slightly worse goal difference. If Villa scored twice more a draw would be good enough for City.

On 50 minutes City restored their lead from another penalty and another foul on Vardy. This time the penalty was not in question, VAR was checking the foul was in the box. Vardy despatched the shot into the side-netting with Lloris rooted to the spot. Now City were back in fourth spot and Jamie Vardy had scored the 150th goal of his senior career. Things were getting better and this time it was the crowd better informed than TV viewers as clearly radio is faster than TV and the crowd were getting excited. Villa had scored again, this time an El Ghazi penalty. City were now so close and yet so far. If City could hold their lead, then Chelsea would need to score three times.

Iheanacho won the ball on the edge of the box and wriggled his way through before shooting straight at Lloris. The good news was seeming to inspire City as they looked for a third. On 62 minutes City replaced Maddison with Ricardo which seemed to be a move to defend the lead as Maddison was playing quite well and his passes were finding holes in the Spur’s defence. Shortly afterwards Lucas and Bale replaced Bergwijn and Alli as the Londoners chased the game. 70 minutes had gone and nervousness was setting in at home and (I guess) in the stadium as the game to-and-froed.

Then it happened, Spurs pressure built and following a corner, Schmeichel put the ball into his own net as he mistimed his punch as he tried to reach the ball through a crowd of players. Although Schmeichel appealed he was fouled, the pictures showed otherwise and the ball glanced off his glove before flying into the net. City were now out of the UCL positions.

Villa Park, Chilwell had scored for Chelsea and pressure was mounting on City. How ironic that in a few minutes the emotions at Wembley a week before had been turned on their head, Schmeichel from heroics to a mistake, Chilwell from despair to delight.

On 82 minutes a significant incident as Iheanacho broke in his own half with two City players ahead of him and only one defender. As the City striker moved forward, he was cynically taken down by Winks and the chance was gone. It felt at the time that this could have been a great opportunity taken from City.

It then collapsed completely for The Foxes as Spurs, through Bale, scored two late goals. First as Kane fed him just inside the box and he shot beyond the City keeper; City’s protestations for handball against Kane in the build up came to nothing as the handball was deemed too early in the move to be of material significance: a further irony from a week ago as City probably benefitted from this same change in the interpretation of the handball law at The FA Cup Final. City were now almost certainly out of the chase and to rub salt into the wound they were almost static as Bale strolled through and passed the ball past Schmeichel, the ball coming back off the post and into Bale’s path allowing him to score easily.

City were not good enough on the day, whatever has happened earlier in the season, The Foxes failed on the day. Apart from the penalties, they failed to trouble Lloris. The disappointment of the day should not take away the fact that this is City’s second most successful season in their 137-year history. The Impact on the squad and any potential signings will hopefully not be too significant as a result of failing to qualify for the UCL.

The 8,000 City fans in attendance played their part in raising the team but in the end, like the team, the reality of the situation set in. They at least had the opportunity to say good-bye to Christian Fuchs and Wes Morgan although, I understand, the whole send-off and lifting of the FA Cup was understandably a bit flat.

So, next time we have the opportunity to see City in competitive action will be at Wembley for The Community Shield in August when, just like at the start of this season, we put our disappointment behind us and we go forward once again with optimism.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Castagne, Fofana, Soyuncu: Albrighton, Ndidi, Tielemans, Thomas: Maddison, Vardy, Iheanacho. Subs: Ward, Ricardo, Morgan, Amartey, Fuchs, Choudhury, Mendy, Praet, Perez.

Tottenham Hotspurs: Lloris; Doherty, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Winks, Alli; Bergwijn, Son, Kane. Subs: Hart, Rodon, Dier, John, Lamela, Bale, Lucas, Scarlett, Vinicius

Referee: Anthony Taylor               Attendance 8,000

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

After the Lord Mayor’s show

Chelsea 2 v 1 LCFC

Report by Stuart Dawkins

I suspect many Leicester fans had a heart-versus-head debate leading up to this momentous footballing week for our Club: which would you prefer, beating Chelsea to win the FA Cup (‘heart’) or beating Chelsea to secure Champions League football for next season (‘head’)?  Prior to Saturday, I could have made the argument either way.  Standing in the crowd at Wembley, by 20-seconds after the full-time whistle it was clear to me that the ‘heart’ answer was the correct one.  

The re-match on Tuesday evening still mattered though; a lot.  The two games also shared another important fact: live fans, even though – completely understandably – these were solely home fans at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea made two changes to their starting line-up from Wembley, plus the expected switch back to first-pick goalkeeper, Mendy.  Rodgers replaced the injured Evans with Albrighton and gave Maddison a start in place of Iheanacho.  City were in their now-iconic maroon kit (who would have thought anyone would ever type that sentence?)

As at Wembley, Chelsea started the brighter and the quicker.  Chilwell had the first decent attempt in the fourth minute, Kanté had a shot parried by Schmeichel five minutes later, and for the first part of the match the ball was rarely out of the Leicester half, with Chelsea somehow looking less toothless than in the first half at Wembley, albeit still not scoring any goals.

Leicester eased back to their more usual selves from around the fifteenth minute, getting a bit more possession and defending slightly less deeply.  Nonetheless all the decent chances were Chelsea’s.  Söyüncü slipped (for the third or fourth time) and Werner was released to ‘score’ – but he was clearly offside, as he so often tends to be.  Mount had a snapshot tipped over the bar by Schmeichel, with Thiago Silva heading a decent chance over the bar from the resulting corner. 

The pressure was all from the side in blue.  After half-an-hour, injury forced Kanté to be replaced by Kovacic.  Kanté had been dynamic in both matches, and this change ought to have been in Leicester’s favour, but it really did not make much difference to the flow of the game.

Jorginho played a great through-ball to Werner, but Castagne blocked the shot well.  Then VAR rode to City’s rescue once more: a left-wing corner arrived with Werner on the goal line, and he bundled the ball into the net.  This was VAR at its best.  In the melee of players, it is understandable why the on-pitch officials were not certain which part of Werner’s anatomy hit the ball, but VAR unambiguously showed it was his arm, and the ‘goal’ was ruled out.

Mount, who was the outstanding player on the pitch, had another decent shot saved by Schmeichel, and the half ended with the home team having taken eleven shots to City’s one (and that one was off target).  That statistic was a fair reflection of the match: Leicester were lucky still to be in it.

Just a couple of minutes into the second half, the normally dependable Thomas got into a tangle and conceded an unnecessary corner.  Leicester’s nemesis – Rüdiger – then showed his wasteful German compatriot – Werner – the correct way to bundle the ball into the goal from a corner.  The slightly deflected cross hit Rüdiger’s knee before entering the goal and it was one-nil to Chelsea.  Astonishingly, it was Rüdiger’s first goal since February 2020 … when he scored two against Leicester at the King Power Stadium.

After an hour, Iheanacho came on for Maddison.  Maddison is a classy player, but he has done nothing of any great note since coming back from injury, and today was no exception.  City began to look a bit more of a threat, but not before another unfortunate mistake by one of City’s youthful stars.  This time it was Fofana who clumsily challenged Werner as the latter was running away from goal and no challenge was necessary.  It looked the faintest of contacts, if at all, but that contact was clearly in the penalty area and this time VAR came to Chelsea’s aid – changing the free-kick awarded initially by Mike Dean into a spot-kick which was coolly converted by Jorginho to make it two-nil.

Rodgers replaced Albrighton with Pereira.  City began to play better, and Iheanacho’s presence made a visible difference.  Vardy finally connected with a cross, but his attempt was easily blocked.  Perez hit a 20-yard shot that was easily saved (City’s first attempt on target … in the 71st minute).  Five minutes later, Ndidi disposed Kovacic, played a through ball to Iheanacho who finished really well to bring Leicester back into the game – two-one! 

With only a one-goal difference the match became more tense.  Zouma replaced Azpilicueta for Chelsea, and the in-stadium fans were audibly nervous. As so often is the case, the losing side did get their ‘one last chance’, in the 90th minute, and it was a good one.  Perez was unmarked in front of goal just inside the penalty area, but he blazed the shot over.

Giroud replaced Werner, helping to run down the clock.  Then, rather oddly, a fracas broke out.  Pereira’s challenge looked fairly innocuous, but Rüdiger clearly had a different view and pushed Pereira close to the Leicester bench.  Suddenly there was a skirmish involving players from both sides and a few of the City staff and subs too.  No punches were thrown, and it was all a bit out of context in what had been a competitive, but not dirty, match.  In the end, substitute Amartey was shown the yellow card, but no other punishment was deemed necessary by Mike Dean.

So … a two-one loss.  Even the most devoted Leicester fan would admit that City probably did not deserve still to be in with a chance by the end of the game.  Chelsea were much the better team.  It was a match that showed up their many strengths, but also weaknesses, under Thomas Tuchel.  They played with pace and purpose but wasted so many chances and – Mount aside – much of the time it looked as though none of their players had either the confidence or the guile to actually score a goal.

Leicester looked fatigued.  Their creative players had off-days: Maddison was mostly anonymous, and even Tielemans was misplacing passes (and his corner-taking was particularly poor).  It was a shame that Chelsea’s goals each came from unforced errors by City youngsters, but those youngsters have achieved so much for the team this season that one cannot really criticise them for such occasional lapses. 

It was good to see fans back in the ground.  It was great to be part of a crowd on Saturday, of course, but even the presence of opposition fans made the TV experience seem more like a proper game of football.

At the time of writing, all City fans will doubtless become temporary Burnley fans … then, if necessary, Crystal Palace fans, willing each team to stop Liverpool from taking the final Champions League spot.  In truth, at the beginning of this season, those fans would I am sure have settled for that long-awaited FA Cup win and Europa League football with both their heart and their head!

Chelsea: Mendy, James, Thiago Silva, Rüdiger, Azpilicueta, Kanté, Jorginho, Chilwell, Pulisic, Mount, Werner Subs: Arrizabalaga, Alonso, Abraham, Zouma, Kovacic, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, Emerson

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Castagne, Fofana, Söyüncü, Albrighton, Tielemans. Ndidi, Thomas, Pérez, Maddison, Vardy. Subs: Morgan, Ward, Iheanacho, Amartey, Choudhury, Ricardo Pereira, Mendy, Praet, Fuchs

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

At Last – the Waiting is Over

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

Report from home by Tish Krokosz

Having waited 52 years to reach a F.A. Cup Final, City fans were excited but perhaps a touch apprehensive after the way Newcastle had thrashed us a little over a week ago. The midweek win against Manchester United went some way to restoring confidence, but most TV pundits, the press and bookies seemed to favour Chelsea, as they were seen to be the top club that can cope with the big events. But why? City were still above them in the League, City had beaten them earlier in the season and Chelsea had suffered a demoralising defeat during the week.

The January defeat of Chelsea by City had probably led to the sacking of Frank Lampard and the introduction of Tommy Tuchel. I do not know whether it is his hair-cut, but he always reminds me of a 1960s Cambridge science post-graduate and his reputation gives the aura of a thinker. He had obviously put some thought into the starting eleven of Chelsea, as he had dropped Chilwell in favour of Alonso and had kept James in defence to monitor Vardy. City’s eleven included Evans who had been a doubt following trouble with a heel injury.

The first quarter of an hour showed that Chelsea wanted to be on the front foot and control the game. They were prominent on the right wing and probably thought they could take advantage of the inexperience of Thomas. Indeed, some early moves showed up gaps in that area and City’s defence had to be quick and alert to the through balls that were being laid on for Werner to chase. The German, though, was not astute enough to get by Söyüncü. The pressure from the Londoners did lead to several corners and these can often be the weak point for City, but they were dealt with comfortably.

City’s first decent attack came when Castaigne was allowed space down the right wing and crossed to Vardy who was waiting on the penalty spot but his effort was blocked by James. It seemed that City’s main strategy was to put a long ball over the top of the Chelsea defence, hoping that Iheanacho or Vardy could run on to it and use it to attack the goal, but the blue line of defence was equal to most of these efforts. Whenever City tried to play the ball on the ground with quick passes, the opposition was ready for this too and would block out the move with superior numbers. Needless to say, Kanté, was as effective as ever in frustrating City’s efforts using this route.

If City did manage to get a ball behind the Chelsea defence, a cynical foul or handball frustrated the City move and any subsequent free kicks were not taken advantage of – Söyüncü heading well wide of the goal.

Chelsea’s best move of the first half came half-way through when Mount, who had been lively throughout, turned Söyüncü too easily outside the penalty area. He had a clear run on goal and shot, but it went just wide of the right post for a corner.

Although Evans had been pronounced fit to play, he only managed half an hour. After a chat with the physio, he limped off and was replaced by Albrighton, who took over the right wing-back position whilst Castaigne slotted into the right side of the back three. I thought this change might unsettle the City defence as it seemed to do in the Newcastle match, but I got the impression that they were more galvanised as if they had a point to prove and City had slightly more possession of the ball for the rest of the half. However, there were too many mistakes by both teams and not much in the way of constructive moves. Fofana and Werner picked up yellow cards within five minutes of one another, probably through frustration.

City started the second half with a little more intent and won their first corner of the game in the 54th minute. More corners and pressure followed until, in the 63rd minute, James tried to ease the situation for Chelsea with a long ball from defence. He did not hit it quite right and Perez blocked it. Thomas picked up the loose ball and passed it to Tielemans who had no one near him. He moved forward with the ball and as he approached the penalty area he hammered it into the top left hand corner of the net. Did no one in the Chelsea camp watch our quarter final game against Manchester United, where Tielemans had an almost identical situation? The Chelsea defence backed off and this gave the Belgian the opportunity to open the scoring. Perhaps there were only 6,000 City fans in the stadium but it sounded like 46,000.

It did not take Brandan Rodgers long to realise that Chelsea would now lay siege in the City half. Maddison had been warming up for about 15 minutes already and he came on in place of Iheanacho after 67 minutes. At the same time Tuchel made up for his earlier defensive approach and brought on Pulisic and Chilwell for Ziyech and Alonso. Shortly after, he exchanged Jorginho and Azpilicueta for Havertz and Hudson-Odoi. The pressure was on City and the traffic was one way. Chilwell, in particular, was becoming a menace – perhaps he had a point to prove. In the 78th minute his header was dropping to the left had corner of the goal, but Schmeichel dived down and palmed it away. The Londoners were desperate to get that equalizer.

Ten minutes from the end, Tuchel made his final change by bringing on Giroud in place of Werner. Rodgers countered this move, by introducing Morgan and Choudhury in place of Thomas and Perez. But the increase in defensive numbers was not enough to stop Chelsea surging forward and in the 87th minute a semi clearance from a cross on the right fell perfectly for Mount to hammer the ball towards goal. Schmeichel then performed one of his best saves that I have seen and turned the ball away from goal, and it flew away to his left.

Chilwell was not satisfied with this attempt and a minute later, with only seconds away from the end of normal time, he ran behind the City defence and met a long ball from Silva. His shot on goal was parried by Schmeichel but bounced against Morgan and into the net. So close to victory and it seemed that City’s dream was broken. But the drama was not over. VAR had to look at the whole move and it was decided that Chilwell started his run a fraction of a second too early and was offside at the time that Silva delivered his pass. The agony and the ecstasy of football were shown in one stroke. “Professor” Tuchel, who during the match had looked first of all pensive, then worried, followed by anger and then frustration, was now disbelieving and distraught.

Five minutes of added time made the tension worse, but Chelsea had run out of steam and were demoralised after the VAR decision. City played out these minutes and could even waste time on a corner. When the final whistle was blown, 6,000 City fans in the stadium and countless others at home and in pub gardens gave an almighty roar. The waiting was over and City had finally won the F.A. Cup.

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

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