Heartache as last-gasp equaliser ruled out by VAR and Blues crash to 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Foxes
By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium
Chelsea 0 Leicester City 1
Chelsea crashed to a humbling 1-0 FA Cup final defeat to Leicester City at Wembley and had the added indignity of seeing a last-gasp equaliser ruled out for offside.
In truth this was a poor display against a side, who have never won the FA Cup, losing four finals on the way.
A toothless performance up front, against a rugged Foxes defence saw Timo Werner eventually substituted and, with Olivier Giroud in place, the Blues failed to get the ball to him even once.
With young striker Tammy Abraham not even in the squad, head coach Thomas Tuchel will have some serious soul-searching about his team selection.
He admitted he got it wrong in the 1-0 defeat in the league, at home to Arsenal. In truth he got it wrong again.
Persisting with Werner played easily into Leicester City’s hands. They failed to allow him the space to use whatever speed he could muster. He was a peripheral figure throughout.
Others failed to shine too - Hakim Ziyech again failing to produce the killer ball when required.
Chelsea started the brighter, Timo Werner, on the right twice getting a byline cross in. Each time the ball was cleared.
Thomas Tuchel played Reece James as a right centre-back in a five-man defence. Cesar Azpilicueta taking Reece's’ normal right wing-back berth.
Despite dominance with the ball, the Blues failed to carve open a clear cut effort. That led to a degree of frustration on 16 minutes, when Toni Rudiger attempted a long-range effort that went well wide.
The Foxes first effort, came from a free-kick on 21 minutes but Caglar Soyuncu headed over Kepa’s crossbar.
Mason Mount forced Schmeichel into a diving save to his left, to finger-tip away a low drive. The ball went for a corner.
There was then a wayward shot by Werner, but a failure to head home on 30 minutes, coupled with Azpilicueta missing the knocked on ball.
Leicester suffered the loss of their centre-back Jonny Evan on 33 minutes, Marc Albrighton replaced him.
The Foxes looked particularly dangerous at set pieces, and Soyuncu was again the man who got to the ball first on 43 minutes from an in-swinging free-kid. But the glancing effort was shy of Kepa’s right post.
This was quickly followed by another quick counter attack by City, this time Jamie Vardy’s glancing header was wide.
The second half started with a higher tempo and an increased sense of urgency. Werner continued to huff and puff but failed to mastermind any real threat on the Leicester goal.
Marcos Alonso, at least got a header on target on 54 minutes, latching onto. Deep cross, but his effort went straight into Schmeichel’s gloves.
But it was the Foxes who were pushing forward with greater intent with Chelsea looking tired.
And so it proved to be when, on 64 minutes, Youri Tielemans was free in the centre of the pitch. He ran forward unchallenged and let fly with a crafty, deft, clipped effort that sailed wide of Thiago Silva and high and wide of Kepa’s desperate dive to his right to put the Foxes 1-0 up.
Tuchel decided to bring on ex-Leicester City left back Ben Chilwell and Christian Pulisic - off came Alonso and Ziyech.
Chelsea’s then made a double substitution on 75 minutes with Kai Havertz replacing Jorginho and Callum Hudson-Odoi replacing Azpilicueta.
Chilwell smacked a header from a N’Golo Kante cross off Schmeichel’s right post.
Olivier Giroud’s introduction brought a glimmer of hope to the downbeat Chelsea fans, Werner cut a sorry figure trudging back to the bench.
Schmeichel actually produced a save of note with four minutes left on the clock, parrying away Mount’s left-footed pile-driver.
But seconds later the Blues thought they had equalised a deep ball pumped in a saw Chilwell bundle the ball home via a ricochet, but the defender was adjudged by VAR to have been offside at the beginning of the move.
That was that and the Blues got what they deserved - nothing.
Teams: Chelsea, Kepa, Alonso, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, James, Kante, Mount, Rudiger, Silva, Werner, Ziyech
Subs: Mendy, Chilwell, Gilmour, Havertz, Hudson-Odoi, Emerson, Pulisic, Zouma
Leicester City, Schmeichel, Castaneda, Evans, Forfana, Iheanacho, Ndidi, Perez, Soyuncu, Thomas, Tielemans, Vardy
Subs: ward, Albrighton, Amartey, Choudhury, Maddison, Mendy, Morgan, Pereira, Praet
Referee: Michael Oliver