Crowd sees Leicester reach FA Cup final

·2-min read

The goal scored by Kelechi Iheanacho didn't just send Leicester into a first FA Cup final since 1969. It was the first to be cheered by spectators at Wembley in more than a year.

Not since March 2020 had fans been allowed into English football's national stadium through three national lockdowns.

Now as coronavirus restrictions are eased, a socially-distanced crowd of 4000 was in attendance at Wembley on Sunday to witness Leicester's 1-0 victory over Southampton to test the return of spectators.

The lacklustre game was settled 10 minutes after the interval as in-form Nigeria striker Iheanacho slotted home at the second attempt after good work by Jamie Vardy.

While those permitted were only local residents in the north London district over the age of 18 who tested negative for COVID-19, some fans of both teams did manage to land tickets.

"We could hear a number of supporters for Leicester in the crowd so that was really, really nice," Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said.

"It's a step towards getting that sort of connection back because the game is nothing without the supporters."

While reaching an FA Cup final is rare, Leicester, who have never won the competition, did win the Premier League so unexpectedly in 2016 and collected the League Cup in 2000.

By the time Leicester face Chelsea in the May 15 FA Cup final, the government hopes up to 21,000 spectators will be allowed, including a sizeable contingent officially from both clubs.

The pilot scheme is aimed at trying to increasing the numbers up to half of the 90,000-capacity Wembley for the European Championship final on July 11.

Before then all Premier League grounds are due to have up to 10,000 fans allowed for the final two rounds of the season next month.