KELECHI IHEANACHO booked Leicester City’s place against Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 15.
Kelechi Iheanacho hails his winner – in front of 4,000 fans at WembleyCredit: Getty
Kelechi Iheanacho slots home the rebound from his own effort as Leicester saw off Southampton in the FA Cup semi-finalCredit: Getty
Foxes’ boss Brendan Rodgers and Jamie Vardy enjoy the feeling of reaching the FA Cup finalCredit: Andy Hooper-The Daily Mail
Fans returned as the Foxes largely outplayed the Saints to win at WembleyCredit: Guardian News & Media / Free to use by all titles in perpetuity under NMC agreement
If anyone was going to break this ‘stalest’ of stalemates it was Brendan Rodgers’ in-form Fox-in-the-box who rifled home his 14th goal in 19 FA Cup appearances to set up a battle of the Blues in next month’s final.
No player has scored more goals in this competition or been more up for the FA Cup than the 24-year-old Nigerian over the past five-and-a-half seasons.
Thankfully, Iheanacho gave this low-key semi-final the nudge it needed just as the 4,000 invited fans inside Wembley were in danger of dozing off.
Once again Iheanacho had Leicester legend Jamie Vardy to thank for setting up his 55th minute winner.
The fleet-footed 34-year-old showed Jan Bednarek a clean pair of heels before laying a low cross into his partner’s path.
Iheanacho’s initial attempt was heading wide but bounced off Jannik Vestergaard and at the second time of asking the £25million hitman made no mistake as he rifled the rebound beyond Fraser Forster.
Midfielder James Maddison, who came off the bench, puts his coronavirus breach shame behind him as he celebrates victory with Brendan RodgersCredit: AFP
Matchwinner Kelechi Iheanacho is off and running to celebrate
Jamie Vardy roars his approval at the final whistle as Leicester booked a return trip to WembleyCredit: AP
Jamie Vardy rises to threaten during a rare moment of first-half dangerCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
It was enough to end the Foxes’ 52-year-wait since their last FA Cup final appearance in 1969.
And it raised hopes that Rodgers’ class of 2021 could lift the famous trophy for the first time in their 137 year history – at the fifth attempt!
However both clubs better pray there were no agents from the proposed breakaway European Super League scouting for potential candidates to join them in the future.
Because neither side managed to bring their A-game to Wembley, although few would argue Leicester were not well worth their win.
Frontman Kelechi Iheanacho kept his cool for the decisive goalCredit: Getty
Ex-England ace Jamie Vardy goes close for Leicester in the weekend’s second FA Cup semi-final at the home of footballCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers watches on anxiously but his side won throughCredit: Andy Hooper-The Daily Mail
Leicester striker Vardy receives treatment at Wembley but was fine to continue playingCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
The 4,000-strong crowd were allowed in as a trial event for the fuller return of sporting fans on May 17Credit: Reuters
Kasper Schmeichel never had a save of note to make and Saints best effort – make that their only real effort – came in the 64th minute when Ibrahima Diallo flashed a vicious volley inches wide from the edge of the box.
However Leicester more than matched that when James Maddison came off the bench and immediately came close with a couple of similar attempts.
Even when Saints sent Fraser Forster up to join the attack in stoppage time, the usually reliable James Ward-Prowse delivered the ball straight into the waiting arms of Kasper Schmeichel.
That summed up Saints’ miserable day as their nerves appeared shredded by the size of the prize on offer and they failed to manage a single shot on target.
Leicester’s Turkey midfielder Caglar Soyuncu is booked but it was largely a subdued contestCredit: Guardian News & Media / Free to use by all titles in perpetuity under NMC agreement
It’s Jamie Vardy menacing again but frontpartner Kelechi Iheanacho was the heroCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.