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Kelechi Iheanacho Fires Leicester Into FA Cup Final

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Nigerian international Kelechi Iheanacho fired Leicester City into its first FA Cup final since 1969 after beating Southampton 1-0 in front of 4,000 fans at the Wembley stadium.

The spectators had to prove they had tested negative for COVID-19 in a lateral flow test before coming to the game. The in-form Super Eagles striker Iheanacho started up front along side Jamie Vardy for the foxes  while Danny Ings featured along side Nathan Redmond for the saints.

Leicester created the better chances in the first half through Vardy. However, the striker failed to take his opportunities as the half finished goalless. Southampton failed to register a single shot on target.

Leicester City’s Wesley Fofana (3) shields ball away from Southampton midfielder Moussa Djenepo (12)

In the second half, there was more intensity from Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side as Kyle Walker-Peters won a free-kick, which was delivered by James Ward-Prowse onto the head of Jannik Vestergaard. The defender was unable to direct his header on target.

However, Leicester opened the scoring after 55 minutes when Vardy’s movement on the left the Southampton defence trailing. The former England striker crossed for Iheanacho, who shot goalwards, but the ball bounced off Vestergaard and the in-form striker made no mistake with the rebound.

Super Eagles and Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho (14) scores against Southampton during FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

 

Each of the last four goals scored at Wembley in the FA Cup have been scored by African players; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double in last season’s final, Hakim Ziyech on Saturday against Manchester City and Kelechi Iheanacho on Sunday.

The goal seemed to spark Southampton to life as substitute Che Adams shot was blocked by Evans, and Diallo was unable to keep his rebound down. Moments later, Super Eagles’ Wilfred Ndidi headed a goal-bound effort away as Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was left stranded.

Substitute James Maddison had the chance to extend the lead when he collected Iheanacho’s pass, but his shot was blasted over. Saints goalkeeper Forster watched another Maddison effort sail over as time was running out for Southampton. There was still not a single shot on target for Southampton as the match ended 1-0 to Leicester.

The Foxes will now be looking to win its first-ever FA Cup in the final on May 15th against Chelsea.

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.

Kelechi Iheanacho (14) celebrates goal against Southampton

“It is a dream come true,”  Man of the Match Iheanacho said in an interview. “Loving it. I am happy. We did it together to get to the final. I watched the FA Cup when I was little and now I get the chance to play in the final. Such a big dream for me.”

“We did it together as a team. I am proud of that. Really happy. We are really happy to have some fans today, it is not easy with everything going on but hopefully the final there will be a lot more. I just want to concentrate and keep working hard.”

“Of course it is amazing when you count the goals but my focus is to keep working hard,” he added.

 

Chidi Nwoke.

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