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Kelechi Iheanacho fires Leicester to first FA Cup final in 52 years

Kelechi Iheanacho’s fine form continued as he fired the winner to book Leicester a first FA Cup final appearance in 52 years after a 1-0 semi-final success over Southampton.

After a poor first half where neither side created any openings of note, Iheanacho scored his 10th goal in his last seven games in all competitions to break the deadlock 10 minutes after the break – the first goal Saints have conceded in the FA Cup this season.

James Maddison came off the bench and went close twice to a second, but Saints offered very little in response down the other end, with Kasper Schmeichel relatively untroubled all match.

Leicester saw out the win quite comfortably in the end and have the chance to win a first-ever FA Cup when they face Chelsea in the final in May.

Moussa Djenepo of Southampton runs with the ball under pressure from Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City

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Image credit: Getty Images

With 4,000 fans in attendance for the first time this year, Jamie Vardy, looking for his first goal since mid-February, had the best chance of a poor first half, looping an effort just over.

Southampton failed to attempt a single shot at goal in the opening 45 minutes of a match for the first time since November 2019 against Everton in the Premier League. The match was hardly offering an alternative to the European Super League.

Vardy made up for his unusual lack of potency in front of goal by creating the opener for his red-hot strike partner. The veteran forward raced down the left, before picking a fine cross into Iheanacho, whose first effort was poor, but he got another bite of the cherry, stroking home after the ball had rebounded into his path. Iheanacho has scored in every round of this season’s competition.

And that proved to be enough for Leicester. Saints will be disappointed with their input, given they offered nothing at all as an attacking force.

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TALKING POINT – Iheanacho completes remarkable turnaround

He went 12 months between September 2018 and September 2019 without scoring a single goal. All looked lost for Kelechi Iheanacho, but after finding the net yet again for Leicester to send them to the FA Cup final, the Nigerian completed his remarkable career turnaround.

Iheanacho is the first Nigerian player to score 15 goals in all competitions in a season for a Premier League club since Odion Ighalo in 2015-16 for Watford, who scored 17. It has been an incredible season nobody saw coming.

MAN OF THE MATCH – Jonny Evans (Leicester)

Saints did not pose too much of a threat, but when they did, Jonny Evans was like a brick wall. He constantly thwarted Saints, with Danny Ings enduring a very frustrating game as a result.


Leicester: Schmeichel 6, Castagne 6, Fofana 7, Soyuncu 7, Evans 7, Ricardo 7, Ndidi 7, Tielemans 7, Perez 5, Iheanacho 7, Vardy 6… Subs: Albrighton 6, Maddison 6.

Southampton: Forster 6, Walker-Peters 6, Bednarek 6, Vestergaard 6, Bertrand 5, Diallo 5, Ward-Prowse 5, Armstrong 5, Djenepo 5, Redmond 4, Ings 4… Subs: Salisu 6, Tella N/A, Walcott N/A, Adams 5.

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33’ – OVER! Best chance of the match. Great threaded pass from Tielemans, Vardy is in, he tries to dink it over the onrushing Fraser Forster, but lifts it over. The drought goes on…

44’ – CLOSE! Evans drifts in around the back, heads across goal, Vardy is on the end of it, but cannot guide the close-range header on target.

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55’ – GOAL! Leicester 1-0 Southampton. That man Iheanacho again! Wonderful play from Vardy to race down the left before crossing for Iheanacho, whose first effort is poor and heading wide, but he gets lucky, the ball rebounds back to him, and he makes no mistake. Ten goals in seven for Iheanacho now.

64’ – WIDE! Much better from Saints. Great strike from Diallo, after Armstrong had clipped the ball back in, but it flies just over.

80’ – OVER! Great play from Iheanacho to delay the pass, waits for Maddison to make the run, picks him out, but the substitute fires over from a good position.

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  • Southampton have now been eliminated in eight of their last 10 FA Cup semi-final appearances, two of which have come in the last four seasons (2017-18 vs Chelsea, 2020-21 vs Leicester).
  • This was only Leicester’s fourth win in 15 appearances at Wembley (D1 L10) and their first since the 2000 League Cup final against Tranmere, while Southampton have lost eight of their 10 matches at Wembley (W2), losing their last five in a row.
  • Since his debut in the FA Cup in January 2016, Kelechi Iheanacho has scored more goals in the competition (first round onwards) than any other player, netting 14 times in 19 games.
  • Southampton failed to have a single shot in the first half, the first time that had happened since November 2019 against Everton in a Premier League game.
  • Only Sheffield United (13) have lost more games in all competitions in 2021 among Premier League clubs than Southampton (12).
  • Jamie Vardy has gone 11 games without a goal in all competitions for Leicester, his longest goal drought since a run of 16 games between September – December 2016.

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