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FA Cup final: Leicester beat Chelsea at Wembley in front of UK’s biggest crowd since before pandemic

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Leicester City have won the FA Cup final, beating Chelsea in front of the UK’s biggest football crowd since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Youri Tielemans scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for Brendan Rodgers’ side – his first trophy since taking over, and a first-ever FA Cup triumph for the Foxes.

The Belgium midfielder fired a shot into the top corner from 25 yards on 63 minutes.

Chelsea were denied a last-minute equaliser by the video assistant referee (VAR), having piled on the pressure in pursuit of a goal that would have taken the game to extra time.

Leicester City's Youri Tielemans scores their first goal of the game during the Emirates FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday May 15, 2021.
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Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans scores the winning goal and (below) celebrates with his teammates
Leicester City's Youri Tielemans (left) celebrates scoring their first goal of the game with teammates during the Emirates FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday May 15, 2021.

It had been a game of few clear chances up until the winning goal, but Kasper Schmeichel was forced into two fantastic saves at the other end with 12 minutes remaining, pushing a Ben Chilwell header onto the post and then pulling off another wonderful stop to deny Mason Mount, as Chelsea searched for a response.

Leicester, who lost key defender Jonny Evans to injury midway through the first half, held on and, 52 years after their last appearance in a FA Cup final, were able to hold the trophy aloft for the first time in their history.

Chelsea’s second FA Cup final loss in as many years is set to put a major squeeze on the end of the Blues’ season.

New boss Thomas Tuchel has transformed the Stamford Bridge men after replacing Frank Lampard in January, however, Chelsea now face a dogfight to secure a top-four Premier League finish, which begins with hosting Leicester on Tuesday night.

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is thrown into the air as his players celebrate the win
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Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is thrown into the air as his players celebrate the win

Around 21,000 people provided a real atmosphere for the showpiece game at Wembley Stadium, which was also attended by officials and dignitaries – including Prince William in his role as president of the FA.

Supporters were allowed in as part of the government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) and had to present a negative COVID-19 test result.

ERP is running pilots to examine the risk of transmission of coronavirus from attendance at such events – seeking to explore ways to enable people to attend them safely in a post-lockdown UK.

Leicester City fans cheer on their side from the stands
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Leicester City fans cheer on their side from the stands

Researchers will monitor indoor air quality as well as movement of air at different locations in the venue.

The aim of the research is to create guidance on how to minimise the risk of airborne transmission of viruses at large-scale events, and help kick-start the sport and entertainment industries as restrictions continue to be lifted.

The researchers are also examining data from Tuesday’s Brit Awards ceremony at London’s O2 Arena, which was attended by 4,500 people.

Some 22,000 fans attended the football match at Wembley stadium
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Some 21,000 fans attended the match at Wembley

Dr Liora Malki-Epshtein, of University College London’s Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering, said: “The first phase of the work will be one piece of the puzzle informing government policy on the feasibility and possibility of reopening events safely in the summer and beyond.

Leicester City fans celebrate victory outside the King Power Stadium in Leicester
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Leicester City fans celebrate victory outside the King Power Stadium in Leicester

“We cannot control human behaviour at events but we can help to ensure that the environment the participants are in is as safe as possible.”

Last month, Manchester City won the League Cup Final against Tottenham, also at Wembley, in front of a crowd of around 8,000 people.

Everyone there also had to present a negative COVID test result before being allowed in, while City fans had to travel down to London in official club transport.

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