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Football Reporting


Leicester City book FA Cup final date and remind super clubs it’s not all about them – John Cross

There was a timely reminder at Wembley that it is not always about the super clubs.

Not when Leicester can dare to dream of another glorious triumph after reaching the FA Cup final.

Not when Wembley welcomed back 4,000 spectators and reminded everyone that football is nothing without fans.

Not when Kelechi Iheanacho wrote his name into Leicester folklore and looks ready to take over the irrepressible Jamie Vardy after scoring the winner.

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This actually felt someway back towards normality again with cheers for a goal, genuine excitement at the end and a taste of more to come.

The tickets were issued to local residents in Brent rather than fans of the clubs, priority given to NHS heroes and key workers and, while it was not a classic, they provided at least some atmosphere after a year of empty, soulless stadiums.

Kelechi Iheanacho wrote his name into Leicester folklore
Kelechi Iheanacho wrote his name into Leicester folklore

Hopefully the test event was a success, no setbacks, Wembley can get more back in future and next time it will be 8,000 and actual fans from both clubs for the Carabao Cup final next Sunday.

But this was still a day to treasure for Leicester who, just like Southampton, would not have been invited to the clandestine talks for a breakaway European Super League.

Then again, the big clubs do not want the likes of Leicester to spoil their money-making machine even if this club gave us one of the greatest football moments of the 21st century by winning the Premier League title.

Now, five years on, Brendan Rodgers has got Leicester dreaming again. Four times they have been runners-up in the FA Cup, three times in the 1960s, and now they have go a chance to write even more history.

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They will face Chelsea in the final next month, they will inevitably be underdogs but it would be foolish to write Leicester off as, after all, they are not in the top four for no reason.

Jamie Vardy celebrates the win on the final whistle
Jamie Vardy celebrates the win on the final whistle

Incredibly, Iheanacho has now scored ten goals in his last seven games, the Leicester striker is now the FA Cup’s top scorer since the 2015/16 season, having scored 14 goals in the last five seasons which is more than the likes of Sergio Aguero, Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane.

It also feels as if Iheanacho is ready to come of age. From bit part player to main man this season under Rodgers, now he has the confidence to be a Premier League regular and also step out from Vardy’s shadow.

Vardy is 34, cannot go on forever and, sooner or later, Leicester will need a new frontman, although the former England striker’s incredible blistering run to set up the winner showed that he is not going anywhere just yet.

Sadly for Southampton, they just never really got going, never found a rhythm or looked like playing the wonderful brand of football which took them to the top of the Premier League earlier this season.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have run out of gas in recent weeks, they put up a good fight but could not find a way past Leicester’s stubborn defence.

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Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates with Caglar Soyuncu and Marc Albrighton
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates with Caglar Soyuncu and Marc Albrighton

Instead, the game was decided after 55 minutes, Vardy sprinted down the left, his low cross found Iheanacho and his shot hit Jan Bednarek and the Leicester striker smashed home the rebound.

Southampton pressed for an equaliser, James Maddison – clearly forgiven after his Covid rule breach last weekend – came on and went close with a long range but there was no way back.

There was at least time for one last punt into the box as Southampton launched a free kick, the 4,000 spectators in the stadium made a big noise and then cheered the final whistle. It was so good to have them back.

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