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2021 FA Cup Final
FA Cup Final 2014 Wembley stadium.jpg
Report
Event2020–21 FA Cup
Date15 May 2021
VenueWembley Stadium, London
RefereeMichael Oliver (Durham)
Attendance21,000
2020
2021

The 2021 FA Cup Final was the final match of the 2020–21 FA Cup and the 140th final of the FA Cup. It was played at Wembley Stadium in London, England, on 15 May 2021. The match was contested between Chelsea and Leicester City.

Four-time runners-up Leicester City won the match 1–0 for their first FA Cup title. As winners, they will qualify for the group stage of the 2021–22 UEFA Europa League, unless they qualify for the Champions League group stage through their league position. The match was among events where the return of large crowds of spectators, after the COVID-19 pandemic in England, was piloted. It will also be used as a pilot event for the use of COVID passports in the United Kingdom|COVID passports, but these were not made mandatory.

The match was televised live in the United Kingdom on BBC One (free-to-air) and BT Sport 1 (subscription channel), the latter for the very last time before secondary UK TV rights to the FA Cup move to ITV from 2021–22. UK radio coverage was provided by BBC Radio 5 Live, Talksport and local BBC radio stations BBC Radio London and BBC Radio Leicester.

The BBC One coverage was presented by former Leicester City player Gary Lineker alongside former Newcastle United player Alan Shearer and former Arsenal player and two-time FA Cup winner Ian Wright, with BBC Sport presenter Dan Walker presenting the preview to the final on Football Focus with former Aston Villa player Dion Dublin and former Arsenal Women's player Alex Scott. Former Chelsea player Ashley Cole relived some of his best FA Cup Finals that he had played in.

The Talksport coverage was presented by Mark Saggers and commentary was provided by Sam Matterface and Andy Townsend.

Route to the final

Chelsea

Round Opposition Score
3rd Morecambe (H) 4–0
4th Luton Town (H) 3–1
5th Barnsley (A) 1–0
QF Sheffield United (H) 2–0
SF Manchester City (N) 1–0
Key: (H) = Home venue; (A) = Away venue; (N) = Neutral venue

As a Premier League team, Chelsea entered the competition in the third round with a home match against League Two side Morecambe. Chelsea won 4–0 with goals from Mason Mount, Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz. In the fourth round, they played Championship side Luton Town at home. At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea won 3–1 with a hat-trick from Tammy Abraham. In the fifth round, they played away at another Championship team, Barnsley. At Oakwell, Chelsea advanced after an sole Abraham goal in a 1–0 victory. In the quarter-finals, Chelsea played fellow Premier League side Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea won 2–0 with an own goal from Oliver Norwood and one from Hakim Ziyech. In the semi-finals at neutral Wembley Stadium, Chelsea played Premier League leaders Manchester City and reached their fourth final in five years following a 1–0 win and another goal from Ziyech.

Leicester City

Round Opposition Score
3rd Stoke City (A) 4–0
4th Brentford (A) 3–1
5th Brighton & Hove Albion (H) 1–0
QF Manchester United (H) 3–1
SF Southampton (N) 1–0
Key: (H) = Home venue; (A) = Away venue; (N) = Neutral venue

As a Premier League team, Leicester City started in the third round, away at EFL Championship Stoke City. At the Bet365 Stadium, Leicester won 4–0 with goals from James Justin, Marc Albrighton, Ayoze Pérez and Harvey Barnes. In the next round, they were drawn away at EFL Championship Brentford and won 3–1 at the Brentford Community Stadium due to goals from Cengiz Ünder, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison. The next round they played fellow Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion at home. At their King Power Stadium, Leicester City won 1–0 with a goal from Kelechi Iheanacho. In the quarter-finals, they were drawn at home against fellow Premier League Manchester United and won 3–1 with two goals from Iheanacho and one from Tielemans. In the semi-finals at neutral Wembley Stadium, they played fellow Premier League Southampton and reached the final on a 1–0 win with an Iheanacho goal.

Pre-match

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, football matches in England had not been played before a crowd larger than 8,000 since March 2020. It was planned by The Football Association that the FA Cup Final would be part of a pilot scheme to allow fans to attend. The English Football League had also delayed the 2021 EFL Cup Final in the hope of being able to admit supporters under the same pilot scheme.

On 14 March 2021, it was announced that up to 20,000 fans would be able to attend the final after it was selected for the pilot. This also came as Wembley was due to host several matches and the final of UEFA Euro 2020 in the summer. Initially the government planned that fans would have to provide evidence of their COVID vaccine status. However, following opposition, the government announced fans would not need vaccine passports but would still have to provide evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 PCR test in order to enter the stadium.

Chelsea entered the match having lost the previous year's final to Arsenal. Leicester City on the other hand reached their first FA Cup final since 1969.

Opening ceremony

British singer-songwriter Becky Hill will sing the national anthem "God Save the Queen" alongside the B Positive Choir and the Band of the Coldstream Guards. The B Positive Choir will also sing the traditional FA Cup Final hymn of "Abide with Me". Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, will lead the presentation party of FA interim chairman Peter McCormick, Emirates' UK divisional vice president Richard Jewsbury and chairman of the FA Cup Challenge Committee Steve Curwood.

Match

Summary

First half

Leicester City kicked off the match around 5:15 p.m. in front of an official attendance of 20,000. Chelsea started the match the dominant side but Antonio Rüdiger's 15th minute shot from 30 yards (27 m) went wide of Leicester City's goal. Timothy Castagne then sent in a low cross which Jamie Vardy struck towards the Chelsea goal but the ball was blocked by Reece James. In the 20th minute, Thiago Silva was adjudged to have handled the ball after Leicester City's Iheanacho tried to beat him. Tielemans' resulting free kick was headed over the Chelsea crossbar by Çağlar Söyüncü from around 6 yards (5.5 m). Midway through the first half, rain began to fall.

Marcos Alonso had a scoring opportunity cleared by Tielemans before Mount's strike from the edge of Leicester City's penalty area took a deflection from Wesley Fofana, going just wide of Leicester City's goal. Werner then struck high over the crossbar from distance before both he and Azpilicueta missed a cross from Mount. Evans became the match's first substituted player when he picked up an injury in the 34th minute and was replaced by Albrighton. A minute later, Fofana was shown the game's first yellow card after fouling Werner; Werner was booked minutes later after a lunging slide on Fofana. With three minutes of the half remaining, Pérez was brought down by Jorginho and Söyüncü headed Tielemans' resulting free kick wide from 12 yards (11 m). Werner had a shot deflected out for a corner by Fofana before Vardy's stoppage time header went wide of the Chelsea goal. The half ended 0–0 with neither team registering a shot on target.

Second half

No substitutions were made during the interval. Chelsea kicked off the second half. Eight minutes in, after Leicester City had dominated, Chelsea's N'Golo Kanté delivered a cross, but Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel easily caught Alonso's weak header. Schmeichel then saved Azpilicueta's shot. In the 63rd minute, Luke Thomas passed to Tielemans whose strike from distance flew into the top-left corner of Chelsea's goal, giving Leicester City a 1–0 lead. Despite claims from Chelsea that there had been a handball during the build-up, the goal stood. Chelsea's Ziyech then shot but his strike was deflected out for a corner which came to nothing. Midway through the second half, Iheanacho was replaced by Maddison before Chelsea made a double-substitution, with Ziyech and Alonso coming off for Christian Pulisic and Chilwell. With 19 minutes remaining, Mount went down after being tackled by Söyüncü but Chelsea's claims for a penalty were denied by the referee.

Azpilicueta was then substituted in the 75th minute after a clash of heads, as well as Jorginho, with Havertz and Hudson-Odoi replacing them. Kanté's 78th minute cross was headed goalbound by Chilwell but Schmeichel saved the attempt. With eight minutes of regular time remaining, Chelsea replaced Werner with Giroud; Leicester City's Thomas and Pérez were substituted for Hamza Choudhury and Morgan. A minute later, Rudiger's shot was high over Leicester City's crossbar before Mount's rising shot was pushed out for a corner by Schmeichel. In the final minute of regular time, Silva passed to Chilwell, who shot; Söyüncü cleared Chilwell's shot off the line but it deflected off Morgan and into the Leicester City net. The own goal was referred to the VAR, who deemed Chilwell was offside in the build-up but the goal was disallowed. Five minutes of stoppage time were played but there were no more goals. The match ended 1–0 to Leicester City, who won the FA Cup for the first time. Tielemans was named man of the match.

Details

15 May 2021 (2021-05-15)
17:15 BST
Chelsea 0–1 Leicester City Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 21,000
Referee: Michael Oliver (Durham)
Report Tielemans Goal 63'
Chelsea
Leicester City
GK 1 Flag of Spain Kepa Arrizabalaga
CB 28 Flag of Spain César Azpilicueta (c) Substituted off in the 76th minute 76'
CB 6 Flag of Brazil Thiago Silva
CB 2 Flag of Germany Antonio Rüdiger
RM 24 Flag of England Reece James
CM 7 Flag of France N'Golo Kanté
CM 5 Flag of Italy Jorginho Substituted off in the 75th minute 75'
LM 3 Flag of Spain Marcos Alonso Substituted off in the 68th minute 68'
AM 22 Flag of Morocco Hakim Ziyech Substituted off in the 68th minute 68'
AM 19 Flag of England Mason Mount
CF 11 Flag of Germany Timo Werner Booked in the 40th minute 40' Substituted off in the 82nd minute 82'
Substitutes:
GK 16 Flag of Senegal Édouard Mendy
DF 15 Flag of France Kurt Zouma
DF 21 Flag of England Ben Chilwell Substituted on in the 68th minute 68'
DF 33 Flag of Italy Emerson
MF 10 Flag of United States Christian Pulisic Substituted on in the 68th minute 68'
MF 20 Flag of England Callum Hudson-Odoi Substituted on in the 76th minute 76'
MF 23 Flag of Scotland Billy Gilmour
MF 29 Flag of Germany Kai Havertz Substituted on in the 75th minute 75'
FW 18 Flag of France Olivier Giroud Substituted on in the 82nd minute 82'
Manager:
Flag of Germany Thomas Tuchel
GK 1 Flag of Denmark Kasper Schmeichel (c)
CB 3 Flag of France Wesley Fofana Booked in the 36th minute 36'
CB 6 Flag of Northern Ireland Jonny Evans Substituted off in the 34th minute 34'
CB 4 Flag of Turkey Çağlar Söyüncü
RM 27 Flag of Belgium Timothy Castagne
CM 8 Flag of Belgium Youri Tielemans
CM 25 Flag of Nigeria Wilfred Ndidi
LM 33 Flag of England Luke Thomas Substituted off in the 82nd minute 82'
AM 17 Flag of Spain Ayoze Pérez Substituted off in the 82nd minute 82'
CF 14 Flag of Nigeria Kelechi Iheanacho Substituted off in the 67th minute 67'
CF 9 Flag of England Jamie Vardy
Substitutes:
GK 12 Flag of Wales Danny Ward
DF 5 Flag of Jamaica Wes Morgan Substituted on in the 82nd minute 82'
DF 18 Flag of Ghana Daniel Amartey
DF 21 Flag of Portugal Ricardo Pereira
MF 10 Flag of England James Maddison Substituted on in the 67th minute 67'
MF 11 Flag of England Marc Albrighton Substituted on in the 34th minute 34'
MF 20 Flag of England Hamza Choudhury Substituted on in the 82nd minute 82'
MF 24 Flag of Senegal Nampalys Mendy
MF 26 Flag of Belgium Dennis Praet
Manager:
Flag of Northern Ireland Brendan Rodgers

Man of the Match:
Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)

Assistant referees:
Stuart Burt (Northamptonshire)
Simon Bennett (Staffordshire)
Fourth official:
Paul Tierney (Lancashire)
Reserve assistant referee:
Dan Cook (Hampshire)
Video assistant referee:
Chris Kavanagh (Manchester)
Assistant video assistant referee:
Sian Massey-Ellis (Birmingham)

Match rules

  • 90 minutes
  • 30 minutes of extra time if necessary
  • Penalty shoot-out if scores still level
  • Nine named substitutes
  • Maximum of five substitutions, with a sixth allowed in extra time

Post-match

As President of The Football Association, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, presented the FA Cup to Schmeichel, Leicester City's captain. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in England, the presentation took place on the pitch instead of in the Royal Box. Players and managers of both clubs picked up their own medals. The FA did not punish Leicester players Choudhury and Fofana for parading the flag of Palestine during the post-match celebrations.

The Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to his side and the supporters: "I’m very proud, it’s a historic day for the club. Winning the FA Cup for the first time is clearly a special day. The players were so courageous in the game... It was a fantastic atmosphere and I’m so happy Leicester supporters could be there to see us win it." He decribed Tielemans' strike as "an old-school FA Cup-winning goal" but highlighted his goalkeeper's influence on the game, saying "... Kasper Schmeichel's saves – those are the special moments you need in games." It was Rodgers' seventh win in a final in seven attempts as a manager. Schmeichel himself was jubilant: "To think of the people who have lifted this trophy, and to be able to do it today is beyond my wildest dreams." Thomas Tuchel, the Chelsea manager, suggested that his team were "simply unlucky" and suggested that VAR had missed a handball in the build-up to the winning goal. He also described Tielemans' goal as "fantastic... but it's a lucky one of course".

Tielemans' goal was lauded in the media: the BBC described it as a "stunner", Miguel Delaney of The Independent said that it was "one of the most spectacular FA Cup winners this competition will ever see", while David Hytner of The Observer called the goal a "firecracker" and one that "will live forever". It was declared "a remarkable goal, a thunderous strike" by CBS Sports and "a moment of magic" by Ali Humayun in The Athletic.

As winners, Leicester City earned £1.8 million in prize money, while runners-up Chelsea earned £900,000. Leicester City also qualify for the 2021–22 UEFA Europa League group stage, unless they qualify for the Champions League group stage through their final 2020–21 Premier League position. They are assured of their place in the 2021 FA Community Shield where they will play league champions Manchester City.

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