London, May 15 (EFE).- Leicester City bested Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday to win the FA Cup for the first time in the 137-year history of the club that shocked the sporting world in 2016 by winning the Premier League.
Their fifth Cup final – the most recent occasion was 1969 – turned out to be lucky for the Foxes.
Youri Tielemans tucked the ball into the top left corner of the Chelsea net from 25 yards out in the 63rd minute and the Foxes looked set to prevail until former Leicester man Ben Chilwell equalized for the Blues in the 89th.
But while the 6,250 Chelsea supporters among the 21,000 spectators allowed in the stands at London’s Wembley Stadium were celebrating, VAR was reviewing the play and joy soon turned to gloom for the Blues when the goal was disallowed for an offside.
Losing the FA Cup final for the second time in less than 12 months has to be a bitter pill for Chelsea, yet Thomas Tuchel and his men can’t waste time on regret.
On Tuesday, Chelsea will welcome Leicester to Stamford Bridge for a Premier League match that could be crucial in deciding whether either or both of them finish in the top four.
The London side set the pace in the early going and would end the match with 65 percent possession, though Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel’s first intervention came only in the 24th minute, when he snatched a Chelsea corner kick out of the air.
Foxes coach Brendon Rodgers had to adjust his tactics at the half-hour mark after defender Jonny Evans, recently returned from injury, found himself unable to continue and Marc Albrighton stepped in.
The sides went to the break deadlocked 0-0 after an opening period that saw no shots on target at either end.
Eight minutes into the second half, Schmeichel dealt easily with a not very powerful header from Marcos Alonso.
Next came the Foxes’ first meaningful offensive sequence of the game, built on successive crosses into the box by Tielemans.
With the match in the final third of regulation time, Ayoze Perez blocked a pass by Chelsea’s Reece James and the ball found its way to Leicester’s Luke Thomas, who passed to Tielemans.
The Belgian international nudged the ball forward before delivering a perfect strike with his right foot to make it 1-0 for the Foxes.
Chilwell forced a dramatic save from Schmeichel in the 78th minute and the Leicester keeper came up with more heroics 10 minutes later to deny Mason Mount.
Just more than a minute remained in regulation when Chilwell’s shot ended up in the net after taking a deflection off 37-year-old Leicester captain Wes Morgan.
Chelsea fans’ ecstasy was cut short seconds later by VAR and the Blues failed to get anything out of the five-plus minutes of stoppage time.
Tuchel and his squad will have one last chance to win a trophy when they square off two weeks from now with Manchester City in the Champions League final. EFE