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Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Leicester City: Spurs reach FA Cup Final for the first time in their history

Martha Thomas’ extra-time winner secured Tottenham Hotspur a place in their first-ever FA Cup final as they overcame Leicester City 2-1 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The semi-final marked the furthest stage either team had made it in the competition in their history. It was Leicester who took the first steps into the history books as Jutta Rantala opened the scoring with a stinging finish from inside the box.

The East Midlands outfit could not sustain their lead to full-time as Jessica Naz slotted home in the 83rd minute to send the game to extra-time. The extra 30 minutes only added further heartbreak to the Foxes as Martha Thomas buried her header with two minutes left on the clock.

In the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium fans wave blue and white Tottenham flags while the teams line-up on the pitch.
Credit: Laura Howard.

It was jubilation for Tottenham, who turned a new page in their club’s history, but for Leicester, it was perhaps the cruellest end to an impressive cup run.

Inside a modern Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the women’s FA Cup semi-finals also took on a new look.

Two teams competing in their first women’s FA Cup semi-final. Two teams also aiming for a further piece of history by making their first ever FA Cup Final at Wembley.

In this unfamiliar territory, both managers opted for unchanged starting line-ups from their WSL matches prior to the international break.

It was Leicester with the earliest chance of the match when a slow pass in the Spurs defence allowed Foxes’ captain Sam Tierney to nick possession but her attempt swerved just left of the target.

Both teams struggled when faced with a sight of goal. Two chances for Celin Bizet in quick succession were fired straight at Lize Kop and then over despite being unchallenged.

That was until Rantala, a player not shy of scoring in recent months, picked up the ball inside the box on 12 minutes.

She jinxed inside to deceive Amanda Nilden and unleashed a rocket of a shot that bulged the back of the net and silenced the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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The Foxes came close once more just three minutes later when a scuffed shot from Tierney sent Becky Spencer sprawling. The keeper did enough to deflect the ball across the face of goal, but Leicester were unable to capitalise on the rebound.

Despite the host’s best efforts, with a lead to defend, Leicester saw out the first half by defending their slender advantage by all means possible.

Surging runs from Jessica Naz cutting inside provided Tottenham’s best threat, but they failed to make their chances pay.

Naz herself unleashed a tempting cross in the 23rd minute that flashed across the face of goal, but there was no one there to capitalise.

It was a similar story ten minutes later when another run from Naz caused problems for the Leicester defence, but her eventual shot was tame and no trouble for Kop.

Deanne Rose was a thorn in the side of Ashleigh Neville at the other end as she blazed over from a tight angle and regularly threatened in behind on the right side.

The opening of the second half offered much of the same with Tottenham getting forward but lacking in end product. So much so that on 56 minutes, Robert Vilahamn saw it necessary to introduce Thomas into the action at the expense of Bizet.

Less than make the difference, the game instead fell flat for large periods of the second half. Whether international break lethargy was creeping in, or the importance of the next goal led to conservatism, a Thomas-styled spark had not been lit.

Vilahamn’s next roll of the dice in search of an equaliser, or just some renewed energy was a triple substitution in the 76th minute with Matilda Vinberg, Olga Ahtinen and Charlotte Grant all called into action.

This time it paid off. As Beth England won the ball back in the middle she lobbed a tempting ball over the Leicester defence to unleash the pace of Naz once more.

Through on goal in the 83rd minute, the newly appointed centre-forward discovered her shooting boots and fired across goal to bury the equaliser in the bottom right corner.

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium came alive once more.

Thomas had the opportunity to seal it in normal time for Spurs in the 93rd minute when Vinberg sent a brilliant cross to the back post. Thomas poked the ball on target, but the reaching finger of Kop turned the ball around the far post to keep Leicester in with a chance of history.

So, for both sides a place at Wembley now rested on 30 minutes and the potential of penalties.

Now it was time for Leicester to introduce fresh faces with Aileen Whelan and Julie Thibaud making up a double substitution from interim manager Jennifer Foster.

Leicester appeared centimetres from going ahead again in the 97th minute when their top scorer, Rantala fired a free-kick from just outside the box on-target.

Spencer got up to palm away but could only force it onto the underside of the crossbar. Luckily for the Tottenham keeper, it bounced out and away.

Other than that pique of excitement, extra time largely followed the script with tired legs locked in a cagey tightrope walk between wanting to attack but, even more so, not wanting to concede.

It was Leicester City’s tightrope that snapped first.

A corner punched away by Kop fell to Vinberg out on the left and it was another sumptuous cross which Luana Buhler flicked on for Thomas to head home at the far post.

It was a goal created in a new era for Tottenham. All three contributing players signed during Vilahamn’s tenure.

It was a goal that sent Tottenham into their first ever FA Cup final and a sign of things to come in a season that has catapulted the North London outfit to new levels.


  • Laura Howard

    Laura is a sports journalist with specialisms in football, hockey and cricket and has bylines in The Hockey Paper and The Non-League Paper. Her work often explores the intersection of sport and social issues with a particular interest in disability and women’s sport. Laura is also a recipient of the NCTJ Journalism Diversity Fund.