Football: Iheanacho fires Leicester into FA Cup final on fans' return

From his cross, Kelechi Iheanacho fluffed his first effort, but the ball broke kindly back to the Nigerian to slot home his 12th goal in as many games.
From his cross, Kelechi Iheanacho fluffed his first effort, but the ball broke kindly back to the Nigerian to slot home his 12th goal in as many games.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Leicester reached the FA Cup final for the first time in 52 years as Kelechi Iheanacho's solitary goal earned a 1-0 win over Southampton in front of 4,000 fans at Wembley on Sunday (April 18).

The biggest crowd for a football match in England for 13 months was made up of key workers and local residents as part of a test event for the return of fans in bigger numbers in the coming weeks.

An 8,000 crowd will be in attendance at Wembley next Sunday for the League Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham, while 21,000 will welcome Leicester back to the home of English football for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 15.

"Even thought there were only 4,000 it felt great," said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers.

"It will be amazing when we get supporters back into stadiums. I did hear some Leicester supporters in there and it was really nice.

"We have the chance to create history. 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."

There was little for the neutrals to get excited about on the field, though, as Leicester struggled to put away an out-of-sorts Southampton, who had been relying on Cup glory to save their season.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's men have won just two of their last 14 Premier League games since the sides last met in January.

"We left everything on the pitch today, but we had no shots on target," said Hasenhuttl, whose focus now turns to ensuring his side's top-flight survival.

Leicester were the better side throughout, but failed to test Fraser Forster before half-time as Jamie Vardy fired over from a narrow angle before Wilfred Ndidi's header dropped onto the roof of the net.

The breakthrough came 10 minutes into the second half as Vardy's pace left Jan Bednarek trailing in this wake.

From his cross, Iheanacho fluffed his first effort, but the ball broke kindly back to the Nigerian to slot home his 12th goal in as many games.

"The FA Cup loves me and I love the FA Cup," said Iheanacho.

"I watched the FA Cup when I was little and now I get the chance to play in the final. It is such a big dream for me."

Leicester substitute James Maddison twice was inches away from wrapping up the tie with powerful shots that flashed just off target.

But Southampton never looked like getting back on level terms as the Foxes comfortably held out for a shot at winning the FA Cup for the first time in their history.