Leicester City survived late VAR drama to clinch a first FA Cup triumph in their history following a 1-0 win over Chelsea, Youri Tielemans’ stunning second-half effort ultimately proving the difference.
In front of a reduced, yet undoubtedly noisy, Wembley crowd, it was Chelsea who made the brighter start, Timo Werner showcasing his electric speed to test the Foxes backline early on.
Despite controlling the opening exchanges, the first real chance of the match fell to their opponents, Timothy Castagne getting in down the right and teeing up Jamie Vardy inside the area, the veteran striker’s effort well blocked by Reece James.
At the other end of the pitch, Tuchel’s men almost fashioned a chance of their own, Thiago Silva’s dinked cross agonisingly evading the head of Cesar Azpilicueta at the back post, after the slightest of touches from teammate Werner.
The German international was heavily involved in that first-half, yet couldn’t quite make the most of a few promising opportunities, while Leicester’s lethal marksman Vardy glanced a header wide after a delightful ball over the top from Youri Tielemans, as the two sides went in level at the break.
After a difficult first-half, the Foxes were much improved after the interval and eventually broke the deadlock in stunning style through midfield lynchpin Tielemans. Driving at the Chelsea defence, the ever-impressive Belgian unleashed a belting long-range effort that sailed into the roof of the net past a helpless Kepa Arrizabalaga.
That pinpoint effort provided the spark needed to ignite the showpiece, the London side almost drawing level through substitute Ben Chilwell, the Englishman’s header superbly clawed away by former teammate Kasper Schmeichel.
The Denmark international then produced another brilliant save minutes later to this time deny Mason Mount, diving to his left to get a vital fingertip to the midfielder’s seemingly goalbound half-volley.
In a frantic finale, Chelsea were again denied an equaliser, this time by VAR. Chilwell – whose every touch had been met by a chorus of boos from the opposition support – bundled the ball home at the back post after a superb floated ball from Silva, before the technology intervened to deny him by the tightest of offside margins.
Following that immense swing of emotions, Rodgers’ men ultimately hung on to claim a historic FA Cup win for the club, the Northern Irishman admitting his pride at being the man to guide the club to a maiden triumph in the competition.
Leicester City finally get their hands on the #FACup at the fifth attempt
2020/21 🏆 pic.twitter.com/T1cSEtjEns
— The Football Faithful (@FootyFaithfuI) May 15, 2021
“It’s an amazing feeling, I wasn’t aware before I came to Leicester that they’d never won the FA Cup, they’d lost in four finals previous so to be able to give that to the owners and the fans, so special,” Rodgers told the BBC.
“So proud, the board players staff, supporters, an amazing day for the city, so proud for everyone.”
When asked about Tielemans’ winning strike, said he felt his side deserved to win against the Champions League finalists, hailing the ‘special moments’ his side produced.
“Youri Tielemans’ goal was like an old school FA cup winning goal but also Kasper Schmeichel’s save, those are the special moments you need in games. Overall we were the better team, super aggressive, pressed well, we were always a threat with the ball. Chelsea are an amazing team, that’s why they’re in a Champions League final but I thought we deserved it.”
The cup triumph follows up the clubs incredible Premier League title success of 2016, while it adds to Rodgers string of trophies he won during his time with Celtic.
“Very special, been in six finals before and won them, today is the seventh and it’s the FA Cup so it’s truly special. It means so much to us, so proud, but happier for everyone else.
“The success of this team and club is getting to positions like this and competing, the so-called bigger clubs are expected to win but our success is competing and if we can perform like today we can go and win, what a day for everyone involved with Leicester.”
The two sides do battle once again on Tuesday night in a potentially pivotal clash in the top-four battle, before the Foxes take on Tottenham on the final day.