LONDON: Leicester City have reached the FA Cup final for the first time since 1969 after Kelechi Iheanacho edged Brendan Rodgers’ side past Southampton on a night when thousands of spectators returned to Wembley.
After Chelsea overcame Manchester City in front of empty stands on Saturday, the following evening saw 4,000 local residents, including key workers, make up England’s biggest crowd for 13 months.
A number of Leicester and Southampton fans were among those at Sunday’s semi-final, with in-form Iheanacho settling the tie by slotting home early in the second half to seal a 1-0 victory under the arch.
There is expected to be 21,000 in attendance – including far more supporters – when the Foxes return to Wembley on May 15 to take on Chelsea looking to win their first-ever FA Cup.
Hopefully the showpiece will be more exciting than the drab semi-final.
At least Sunday’s tie was memorable for the return of spectators, with Leicester edging a cagey first half and then landing a 55th-minute blow just as Saints looked to be waking up.
Jamie Vardy, who wasted the best chance of the opening period, got free down the left and crossed for in-form Iheanacho, whose poor first effort kindly deflected back to him and he slotted home.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers, who has never previously won a major English trophy, said: “That is what this game is about, creating a memory. I have been made aware since I’ve been at Leicester how important this cup is for the supporters.
“We have the chance to create history. When we arrived here, that was the ambition. From a football perspective we wanted to be able to compete and we have been able to do that. Now we have a trophy to genuinely go for.”
Iheanacho said: “It is a dream come true. I watched the FA Cup when I was little and now I get the chance to play in the final. I think the FA Cup loves me and I love the FA Cup.”