Tielemans the hero as Leicester stun Chelsea to win first ever FA Cup
Youri Tielemans produced one of the great FA Cup final goals to give Leicester City the trophy the first time in their history with victory over Chelsea at Wembley.
The Belgian settled a closely contested encounter with a spectacular right-foot drive that flew beyond Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga into the top corner from 25 yards in the 63rd minute.
It sent manager Brendan Rodgers down the touchline in celebration although Leicester City’s fans – inside Wembley as 21,000 supporters formed the biggest attendance since lockdown – had to survive a nerve-jangling closing phase before they could celebrate the win in their first final since 1969.
The Foxes were indebted to two crucial saves from keeper Kasper Schmeichel, who turned former Leicester defender Ben Chilwell’s header on to a post then produced an even better stop to turn Mason Mount’s powerful shot wide.
And in a final act of drama, Chilwell thought he had equalised in a last-minute goalmouth scramble before it was ruled out by the barest of margins following the intervention of VAR.
Leicester closed out the win to spark emotional scenes as those inside Wembley rejoiced in a landmark victory.
Rodgers’ outstanding work gets its reward
Foxes boss Rodgers had a smile that illuminated Wembley as he joined Leicester City’s players in joyous scenes of celebration after the manager and his players had written their name into the club’s folklore.
Tielemans, the gifted 24-year-old, will claim the glory for the sheer quality of the strike that won this FA Cup final and the rest of his performance oozed the quality that saw him named man of the match.
The Foxes had heroes elsewhere, particularly in veteran keeper Schmeichel, who was well protected for most of the match but made a huge contribution when required. His second key save from Mount, one-handed diving away to his left, even had Rodgers turning around and blowing out his cheeks in relief and admiration.
Youngster Luke Thomas was composed and Leicester even survived the premature loss of the experienced and influential defender Jonny Evans, who was a doubt before the game and suffered a recurrence of his heel injury, to keep Chelsea at bay.
And for Rodgers, who cleaned up with Celtic in Scotland, this was another significant addition to his CV, as his expert guidance of Leicester – who are in a strong position to finish in the Premier League’s top four and face Chelsea again at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday – now has a tangible reward in the shape of the FA Cup.
This was the result of outstanding work by Rodgers and his players and the rest of the season may yet produce another high point if they can clinch a place in next season’s Champions League.
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