Leicester beat Southampton (1-0) at Wembley Stadium, on Sunday, to reach the FA Cup final, for the first time in its history, in front of 4000 spectators at the stadium, for the first time since December.
The crowd’s comeback in the second semi-final marked a new phase in the slow recovery of social life, six days after non-essential businesses reopened. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented it above all as an experiment aimed at ensuring the safe reopening of major sporting or musical events, without a healthy passport at first.
Admission to the stadium is subject to harsh conditions: a negative PCR test, as well as a pre-match antigen test, and a new test five days after the match, with the mask remaining mandatory.
These guests, most of them healthcare workers or residents of Brent County, northwest London, fought to be heard in the 90,000-seat mega-Wembley. The most striking demonstration came after a minute of silence dedicated to Prince Philip, with a few seconds of loud applause. Although hundreds of people celebrated the sole objective of the game, the moods remained relatively neutral.
We’ll wait another week and the League Cup Final to see real supporters at Wembley: 8,000 fans from Tottenham and Manchester City will be in attendance on Sunday 25 April. The FA Cup Final on 15 May is expected to gather 21,000 people, including several thousand Leicester.
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The two teams may have been annoyed by the presence of spectators, which has become uncommon, especially due to a place betting in the Cup Final, as the two teams gave themselves little in the first period.
Shot by Tillmans, Jimmy Vardy fired a big chance in the 33rd minute, due to a good exit from Forster. Brendan Rodgers’ formation, third in the Premier League, failed to weaken Southampton, the third-worst defense in the league. The Saints, on their part, remained extremely careful and not even shot a single shot on goal.
They tried to play with a back higher than the locker room, and paid dearly with a counterattack led by Fardi, who found Kelichi Ioannacho a cross pass. The Nigerian did so twice to open the scoring (1-0, 55th).
Southampton’s reaction was immediate, but inaccurate, including two long shots from Brahima Diallo, and the second shot in the left corner from Kasper Schmeichel (64).
Brendan Rodgers strengthened his midfield with the return of Albrighton and Madison, which allowed the Foxes to suppress the ambitions of their opponents. With little success, Madison (77, 79) and Ihanachu (90 + 2) could have protected them.
Leicester fans can dream about the FA Cup for the first time in their history, five years after they won the historic Premier League title. The last cup final dates back to 1969. They meanwhile won the League Cup in 2000.
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