Kelechi Iheanacho’s second half strike was enough to send Leicester city through to the FA cup final to face Chelsea at the expense of an ever-inconsistent Southampton side.
Ralph Hasenhuttl, perhaps surprisingly, only made one change to the team who were comfortably beaten 3-0 by West Brom last time out. In came tricky winger Moussa D’jenepo for Theo Walcott. Fraser Forster looks to have solidified his place as Southampton’s No.1 keeper in recent months, replacing Alex McCarthy. Nathan Redmond partnered Danny Ings up-front.
Cagey first 45 mins:
The most notable and exciting part of the first half was seeing the return of fans to Wembley. Due to the current relaxation of the lockdown rules and as part of the Governments ongoing pilot events, 4000 fans (made up of local residents and key workers) were allowed to be in attendance at Wembley. Many football fans will hope this is a sign of things to come and will be especially desperate to be in attendance at this summers European championships. Will this actually be possible and to what extent? Only time will tell.
The 4000 fans in attendance were not treated to a classic first half FA cup semi-final. Both teams looked nervous and this resulted in an edgy stop-start game at Wembley.
Leicester did look the more dangerous team however, especially on the counter-attack.
The most notable chance of the half fell to the feet of the, usually clinical, Jamie Vardy. Ibrahimo Diallo, who looked out of place in the first half, inexplicably gave the ball away in the centre of the pitch. Belgian international Youri Tielemans picked it up and played a pinpoint through-ball into the path of Jamie Vardy. The striker had a chance to take an early shot and potentially catch Fraser Forster out but instead took a few too many touches and eventually chipped a shot just high and wide from a tight angle. A let off for the Saints.
Drab Southampton performance punished:
The pace of the game thankfully picked up in the second half. Southampton looked lively for the first 10 minutes but failed to create a clear-cut chance.
With just under an hour played, it was Leicester who took the lead. The goal was scored by Kelechi Iheanacho but all the plaudits must go to Jamie Vardy. The striker found himself out wide and completely did the covering Jan Bednerak for pace. Vardy drove into the box and picked out Iheanacho who’s first shot was blocked before he calmly slotted home past Fraser Forster. The Leicester forward is in a rich vain of form, this being his 10th goal in just 7 games.
Southampton, who this season have been credited for their ever-present pressing, energy and intensity looked void of a route back into the game. Leicester were frustrating the Saints by committing constant tactical fouls and slowing the game down. The Saints simply could not find a way through.
The best chance of an equaliser fell to the wrong man in Ibrahimo Diallo. Following a set piece the ball pin-balled in the Leicester penalty area before bouncing perfectly into the path of the Saints midfielder. He struck it cleanly on the half volley but the ball was always heading just wide of the top corner.
Despite Hasenhuttl making use of Che Adams and Theo Walcott from the bench, the Saints simply failed to create chances and embarrassingly ended the game without a single shot on target. Leicester went through to the FA cup final as 1-0 winners.
The loss puts a huge hole in Southampton’s inconsistent season. Despite the current poor form in the league, Saints fans would’ve relished seeing their team go for FA Cup glory. But, it wasn’t to be. Perhaps questions must now be asked (if they weren’t already) of the future of Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Southampton must pick their heads up quickly as they host Tottenham in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl must’ve left Wembley stadium on Sunday night with a deep feeling of regret over his teams performance. It’s never nice to lose a semi-final but to lose it in the manner the Saints did is unacceptable.
“In the end, especially in the final third, we didn’t have good moments. We couldn’t get a shot on goal and this is not enough.”
“We saw a not very good football game to be honest, with both teams a little nervous. We had the chance to get to the final. We will try again next year.”
FT: Leicester 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON (Iheanacho 55′)
Leicester: Schmeichel, Fofana, Evans, Soyuncu (booked), Castagne, Periera (Albrighton 60′) Ndidi, Tielemans, Perez (Maddison 69′), Vardy, Iheanacho. Unused subs: Ward, Amartey, Under, Choudury, Mendy, Praet, Thomas.
Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters (Salisu 85′), Bednarek (booked), Vestergaard, Betrand (Tella 85′), Armstrong, Diallo (booked), Ward-Prowse, Djenepo (Walcott 73), Redmond (Adams 59′), Ings. Unused Subs: McCarthy, Stephens, N’Lundulu, Ferry, Jankewitz.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
Referee: Chris Kavanagh