Iheanacho’s brace downs Manchester United in thrilling match
Leicester City advanced to the semi-finals of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in 39 years thanks to a superb 3-1 victory over Manchester United at King Power Stadium on Sunday night — Leicester City 3, Manchester United 1
A brace by Kelechi Iheanacho’s was all it took to bring down Manchester United and catapult Leicester City to the semi-finals of the Emirates FA Cup, for the first time in 39 years.
For his 100th game as Leicester City manager, Brendan Rodgers made one change to his starting XI, with Marc Albrighton replacing Ricardo Pereira, who missed out with a minor hamstring strain.
Following up a convincing 5-0 win over Sheffield United last weekend, it took only four minutes for the Foxes to create their first opportunity of the match as Alex Telles slid in to block Iheanacho’s close-range effort, although Jamie Vardy was later flagged offside in the build-up.
Telles was also active at the other end of the pitch, swinging in a deep corner that former Fox Harry Maguire headed into the arms of Kasper Schmeichel for the Dane’s first stop of the encounter.
It took a fine save from Dean Henderson to prevent Vardy opening the scoring on 17 minutes, when the No.9 saw his low effort turned away after Maguire’s clearance fell to the feet of the striker inside the Man United box.
Just a minute later, Vardy was in again, but this time, Maguire stood up well to block the effort as Ayoze Pérez won the ball in midfield and City tried to capitalise with an early counter-attack on Filbert Way.
But it was his forward partner, Iheanacho, who would seize upon Leicester’s next chance as he latched onto Fred’s misplaced pass and rounded Henderson before slotting into an open net for his sixth goal in his last four games in all competitions.
Schmeichel was required to tip a dangerous cross behind on 28 minutes, before the corner was headed wide by Maguire as the visiting side looked to respond immediately to Iheanacho’s opener at King Power Stadium.
Both defences were tested shortly after, with Jonny Evans – on his 100th start for the Club in all competitions – completing an excellent recovery run to halt Mason Greenwood’s advances.
Meanwhile, Wesley Fofana blocked Paul Pogba’s through-ball and Maguire received a booking for tripping Iheanacho on the edge of the box.
From the resulting free-kick, Albrighton played it short to Youri Tielemans, had a low effort from 20 yards blocked.
The Foxes did not let up in their search for a second goal, and continued to hassle the Manchester United midfield. Another interception eventually led to Pérez finding Iheanacho, but the Nigeria striker couldn’t feed Vardy, as Aaron Wan-Bissaka timed his challenge well.
However, seven minutes before the interval, Greenwood slammed into the bottom corner after Donny van de Beek dummied Pogba’s cross, levelling matters at 1-1 in a hotly-contested first half.
Schmeichel then collected Pogba’s placed strike and Tielemans had an effort blocked as the game creeped closer to half-time, before an attempt from Pérez, who twisted and turned, whistled past Henderson’s right-hand post.
With both sides unchanged for the second half, Henderson had to be on hand to hold onto Wilfred Ndidi’s strike towards the near post, but it was another midfielder who would restore Leicester’s advantage not long after.
City were patient in their build-up play, moving the ball quickly before Tielemans saw a gap in the heart of the United midfield and drove forwards before arrowing a low effort into the bottom corner of the net on 52 minutes.
Five minutes later, Telles smashes a left-footed drive just inches wide after Çağlar Söyüncü had earlier made a string of impressive blocks during a lively spell of possession for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men.
A golden opportunity for Rodgers’ side to double their advantage fell to Vardy just moments later, but the 2019/20 Premier League Golden Boot winner could not beat Henderson while one-on-one, instead firing wide with his right foot.
The Foxes continued to probe, with only a last-ditch block denying Vardy from Albrighton’s cross on 61 minutes, and then Tielemans sent a tame shot on goal that Henderson was easily able to deal with, before Pérez lifted over 60 seconds later.
A quadruple change followed for the visitors, with Edinson Cavani, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw all coming in an attempt to bolster Solskjær’s outfit with 24 minutes of normal time remaining.
It was then time for City’s first change of the tie, with Pérez making way as Dennis Praet came off the bench to make his first appearance since early January following a hamstring problem that had seen him miss the last 16 games across all competitions.
And it was Praet who would go on to play a major role in the Foxes’ third goal of the clash, as he won a free-kick on the wing after being fouled by McTominay. Albrighton sent it in and there was Iheanacho at the back post to convert his second of the game.
City made their second substitution of the match with seven minutes to go, with Academy graduate Hamza Choudhury come on for Vardy as the hosts switched to a 5-4-1 formation to see the game out.
There was still time for Schmeichel to deny Fernandes’ 25-yard free-kick, clawing the ball out of the top corner to prevent the Manchester outfit from mounting a comeback in the closing stages.
But the Red Devils’ late advances were thwarted, and it was City – for the first time since 1982 – who would reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
The final international break of the 2020/21 campaign will now take place, with City next facing Manchester City at King Power Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday 3 April (5:30pm GMT kick-off).