Cup final agony for Chelsea & Tuchel again as wonder goal consigns Abramovich’s club to 3rd season without English trophy (VIDEO)
Leicester were far from regulars at Wembley, last coming within sight of the trophy in 1969 in the last of their four previous unsuccessful appearances in the final, but the confidence of a season in which they have consistently been above Chelsea showed.
Neither side produced a shot on target in a cagey first half that many might have expected between two teams known for firm defenses, offering little reward to the 20,000 fans allowed to attend as part of the easing of pandemic restrictions around sporting events in the UK.
That all changed in the 63rd minute, when 19-year-old Leicester full-back Luke Thomas found Tielemans well outside the Chelsea penalty area. The Belgium midfielder took a touch forward before blazing a rising shot into the top right-hand corner of Kepa Arrizabalaga's net, giving the Chelsea goalkeeper no chance despite his best effort to add a finger or two to the strike.
Chelsea coach Tuchel had felt the pain of a cup final defeat when he led Paris St. Germain to the Champions League final last season. Keen to change the tide, the manager known for his tactical tweaks introduced USA winger Christian Pulisic for Morocco livewire Hakim Ziyech and switched defender Marcos Alonso with Ben Chilwell, a summer signing from Leicester.
The former Foxes full-back came closest to bringing Chelsea back into the contest. As Leicester fans gladly booed him, Chilwell leapt to meet a hanging cross from N'Golo Kante in front of goal, only to see goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel deny him with a fine save to his right-hand side, clawing the effort away at the last as it spun towards the corner of his net.
Perhaps adopting a more direct approach, Tuchel introduced Olivier Giroud for top scorer Timo Werner in attack. There was no passing Schmeichel, though, who produced another remarkable save, descending rapidly at full stretch to narrowly divert a Mason Mount strike around the opposite post to the one from which he had produced his first moment for the highlights reel.
Mount had caught the shot sweetly, thumping the ball towards the corner of the net at full pelt. The England dynamo was on the brink of celebrating, failing to bargain for Schmeichel's sharp, supple intervention.
As the end of normal time approached, there was agonizing drama for both sides. Thiago Silva cut through the Leicester defense with a perceptive long ball through the centre, picking out Chilwell, whose diversion towards goal was kept off the line by Marc Albrighton.
Wes Morgan could not evade the rebound, sending the ball into the net and Chelsea fans into raptures. Just as their players' wild celebrations in a corner had calmed down, a VAR decision ruled Chilwell to have been offside by a slender margin.
That was the last of Chelsea's chances. Tuchel cut an increasingly frustrated figure as Leicester largely kept possession inside the Blues' half in added time, completing the job to lift the trophy for the first time in their history.
Owner Roman Abramovich may have been glad he was not there to see Leicester lauding their ecstatic fans at the end. The Russian will now hope he can prove a lucky charm in person at the end of the month, when Chelsea face Manchester City in the Champions League final in Porto.Also on rt.com Chelsea owner Abramovich tipped to attend Champions League final – as UEFA is slammed for making it near-impossible for fans to go