VAR drama at Wembley as Leicester clinch their first ever FA Cup.
Chelsea’s transformation under Thomas Tuchel has been phenomenal, and their FA Cup final clash against Leicester on Saturday evening was the team’s first chance to secure silverware under the German.
The meeting between the two clubs is the first of two across four days, with the Foxes set to travel to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday for an all-important clash that will help to determine the final pieces to this memorable Premier League season.
Going into the game, it is the Blues who have the upper hand in the competition, having beaten Leicester in each of their meetings.
Thomas Tuchel made five changes to the team that suffered a midweek defeat to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. Kepa Arrizabalaga kept his place in goal, having played in every FA Cup match prior to the final. It is also worth highlighting that the competitions joint top scorer Tammy Abraham was also left out of the matchday squad.
After picking up an important three points at Old Trafford on Tuesday, Brendan Rodgers made just one changeto his Leicester starting eleven, as the Foxes were boosted by the return of Jonny Evans.
Chelsea looked to clinch their seventh FA Cup, whilst Leicester was looking for their first in their 137-year history.
The Blues started positively, with striker Timo Werner looking lively from the opening whistle. The German looked sharp and up for the occasion, making promising runs off the defender’s shoulder.
Despite an early long-range effort from Antonio Rüdiger, the first real chance of the game came on the 15thminute, as Jamie Vardy’s header was crucially blocked following the cross from Timothy Castagne.
5 minutes later, there was another chance for the Foxes who won a free kick following a handball from Thiago Silva. The cross into the box was met by Çağlar Söyüncü, who failed to hit the target with his effort.
Chelsea later had chances themselves through both Mason Mount, Timo Werner and César Azpilicueta, but neither of them were able to capitalise.
On the 34th minute, Leicester was given a blow as defender Jonny Evans wasn’t able to continue, and was forced into being replaced by Marc Albrighton. It was a race against time for Evans to be fit for the final, but it seemed as if he wasn’t 100%, and was made to watch the rest of the game from the side-lines.
On the 39th minute, a clearance from Marcos Alonso turned into a dangerous ball that was met by Hakim Ziyech. The Moroccan switches the play to Timo Werner, who sees back-to-back efforts blocked by Wesley Fofana.
As the first half came to a close, there was attempts from both sets of strikers as both Jamie Vardy and Timo Werner looked to fire their sides ahead. However, both were unsuccessful, as the sides were locked at 0-0 going into the break.
The second half began just as the first did, cagey.
The first shot on target in the game arrived on the 53rd minute, as Marcos Alonso’s header was comfortably saved by Kasper Schmeichel. However, the Foxes then starting to switch through the gears and edge their way into the game.
Chelsea’s defence looked difficult to break down, with Leicester needing to do something spectacular in order to chisel their opponent’s backline down.
On the 63rd minute, the Foxes found their breakthrough as a screamer from Youri Tielemans fired Leicester in front. Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga looked too short deny the thunderbolt of an effort, leaving Chelsea all the work to do in the remaining 30 minutes.
Despite their attempts, Chelsea continued to struggle to break their opponents down. On the 77th minute, substitute Ben Chilwell came close to equalising against his former side – but a stunning save from Kasper Schmeichel denied his former teammate.
Chelsea came close once more on the 86th minute, as Mason Mount’s half volley was denied by Schmeichel in what was a breath-taking save.
Just minutes later, Chelsea and Ben Chilwell had the ball in the back of the net with Wembley Stadium erupting with emotion. However, VAR intervened and identified that Chilwell was marginailly offside – with the goal being chalked off and the Foxes regaining their lead.
The decision looked to have taken the wind out of Chelsea’s sail, who left Wembley as the runners-up for the second consecutive season.
After the whistle:
Leicester was deserved winners on the day, and deserve every bit of credit based on their performance. The goal from Tieleman’s was a special strike, and it proved to be enough to secure Leicester their first ever FA Cup.
After suffering defeat to Arsenal in midweek, Saturday’s result against Leicester could prove to be a huge turn around in Chelsea’s season. Since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment, the Blues have been in magnificent form, but the result over the last week looks to be the most challenging period that Tuchel has faced yet.
Chelsea will feel hard done by following the VAR decision in the dying moments of the game, but will be forced to bounce back on Tuesday’s game in order regain momentum ahead of the end of the season.
Chelsea 0-1 Leicester City.
- Tielemans (63’).
BBC Sports player of the match:
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City).
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Arrizabalaga; James, Silva, Rüdiger; Azpilicueta © (76’), Kanté, Jorginho (75’), Alonso (68’); Ziyech (68’), Mount; Werner (82’).
- Subs: Chilwell (68’), Pulisic (68’), Havertz (75’), Hudson-Odoi (76’), Giroud (82’).
Leicester City (3-4-1-2): Schmeichel ©; Fofana, Evans (34’), Söyüncü; Castagne, Tielemans, Ndidi, Thomas (82’); Pérez (82’); Iheanacho (67’), Vardy.
- Subs: Albrighton (34’), Maddison (67’), Morgan (82’), Choudhury (82’).
Chelsea (64%) vs Leicester City (36%).
Chelsea (13) vs Leicester City (6).
Shots on target:
Chelsea (3) vs Leicester City (1).
Chelsea (10) vs Leicester City (4).
Chelsea (13) vs Leicester City (9).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | BT Sport).
Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).