Spurs are on their way to Wembley after dramatic extra-time win over Leicester

By Sports Desk April 14, 2024

Martha Thomas’ 118th-minute header sent Tottenham into a maiden Women’s FA Cup final after a pulsating 2-1 win over Leicester after extra-time.

Spurs had switched this semi-final tie to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and an attendance of 18,078 was recorded, but the visitors threatened to be party poopers when Jutta Rantala smashed home in the 12th minute.

It looked like being the winner for a Leicester side heavily affected by off-the-field matters this season with Willie Kirk sacked in March and Jennifer Foster in interim charge, but Jess Naz forced extra-time with seven minutes of normal time left.

And Robert Vilahamn’s team produced a dramatic finale when substitute Thomas headed home for her 10th goal of the campaign to send Tottenham through to next month’s final and earn them a first trip to Wembley.

These teams had met last month in a low-key Women’s Super League encounter at Brisbane Road, but Spurs switched this fixture to the men’s stadium and it was given the big-match treatment.

Home fans waved flags as the players entered the pitch, but Leicester almost silenced an expectant crowd inside three minutes only for Sam Tierney to lob wide after she spotted Becky Spencer off her line.

Tottenham soon settled with Grace Clinton pulling the strings and she sent Celin Bizet away for two fine chances, but the Norway international was denied by the legs of Lize Kop before she lifted another effort over.

But it was the visitors who took the lead.

The ball broke for CJ Bott, who recycled possession out to Rantala and she cut inside and unleashed a powerful left-footed strike from 18 yards past Spencer.

It was nearly 2-0 after 16 minutes when Deanne Rose burst down the left and crossed for Tierney, but her weak effort was saved by Spurs goalkeeper Spencer.

Chances were few and far between until Eveliina Summanen headed over from close range after an Amanda Nilden corner, but Leicester’s Lena Petermann had got a slight touch to the ball to put off the Finnish midfielder.

Leicester had penalty appeals waved away when Rose tangled with Ashleigh Neville in the area before the lively Foxes attacker fired wide as it remained 1-0 at the break.

The second period was seconds old when Rantala found Petermann inside the area, but Spurs defender Luana Buhler made a vital block.

Tottenham responded with captain Bethany England and Nilden firing off target before a corner by the latter set up an opportunity for Summanen, but she blazed over from six yards.

Vilahamn had seen enough and introduced top goalscorer Thomas with 23 minutes of normal time left before Kit Graham was also sent on.

The final roll of the dice by Vilahamn was a triple substitution in the 77th-minute and six minutes later they levelled.

It was a moment to forget for ex-Spurs midfielder Josie Green who failed to clear England’s long ball forward and Naz showed supreme composure to slot into the corner.

That goal sparked a dramatic finale with Leicester substitute Shannon O’Brien denied by Spencer, but that was bettered by Kop, who produced an excellent finger-tip save to thwart Tottenham’s Thomas deep into stoppage-time.

Extra-time was required and the visitors were inches away from a second when Rantala’s 99th-minute free-kick rattled the crossbar after a key Spencer save.

It proved decisive as with minutes left, substitute Matilda Vinberg’s whipped cross was flicked on by Buhler for Thomas to head home and spark wild celebrations in Tottenham.

Related items

  • Bayer Leverkusen's 'dream season' down to self-belief – Alonso Bayer Leverkusen's 'dream season' down to self-belief – Alonso

    Bayer Leverkusen's Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double was the result of players keeping faith in the team throughout what turned into a dream season, so says Xabi Alonso.

    Leverkusen added the Pokal to their Bundesliga crown with a 1-0 victory over second-tier Kaiserslautern.

    Granit Xhaka scored the only goal of the game as he arrowed in from distance in the 16th minute.

    "In the end, to win like that meant we showed spirit, we fought for the fans for the club," said Alonso.

    "It is a huge success to win the double. We will remember this in the future."

    Leverkusen lost only one of 53 matches across all competitions this season, with that sole defeat coming in Wednesday's Europa League final against Atalanta, denying them a treble.

    "The most important thing was the belief of the team. They were ready to battle with 10 players and I am proud of that," Alonso said.

    "I need time to accept what happened this season. It was a dream season and to celebrate the last day like this here is special."

    Leverkusen will be looking to build on their success next season, with Alonso having snubbed the advances of Liverpool and Bayern Munich in order to stay at the club.

  • 'If they don't want me, I'll win trophies somewhere else' – Ten Hag bullish after Man Utd win FA Cup 'If they don't want me, I'll win trophies somewhere else' – Ten Hag bullish after Man Utd win FA Cup

    Erik ten Hag was in a feisty mood as he took on the press following Manchester United's FA Cup triumph, insisting he will win trophies anywhere he goes.

    It was reported on Friday that United had made the decision to sack Ten Hag regardless of whether or not he managed to claim a shock FA Cup win over Manchester City.

    Yet the Dutchman did just that at Wembley on Saturday, with first-half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo enough to claim a 2-1 victory.

    It is United's first FA Cup success since 2016. On that occasion, Ten Hag's compatriot, Louis van Gaal, was sacked after claiming the trophy.

    And Ten Hag was in no mood to be criticised when he told reporters: "We have to keep going, and I'm not satisfied with it, we have to do better and if they don't want me anymore, then I go will somewhere else to win trophies, because that is what I did my whole career.

    "That is what they always tell me."

    The former Ajax coach subsequently cut short his press conference when it was put to him by a journalist that United, who finished eighth in the Premier League, were still way behind where they should be.

    "Sorry to say this, but you don't have any knowledge about football, about managing a football team," Ten Hag said. "When you don't have the players available, then you can't perform, so simple as that.

    "And if that is the opinion, it is no problem. Then I go anywhere else and I go and keep winning trophies."

    Ten Hag, who waved to the Red Devils' fans at full-time, has now won two trophies with United, having taken them to an EFL Cup triumph last season.

    City manager Pep Guardiola said United must now make a decision.

    "They have to take a decision. He's a lovely person and an extraordinary manager," Guardiola said.

    "Winning the FA Cup is important for them like last season it was for us."

    Reflecting on City's loss, Guardiola said: "Disappointed today, it's normal teams can lose finals but this season has been extraordinary fighting for all the trophies in a good way.

    "We will rest and come back next season."

  • Real Madrid 0-0 Real Betis: Bore draw cannot ruin Kroos' goodbye Real Madrid 0-0 Real Betis: Bore draw cannot ruin Kroos' goodbye

    Toni Kroos bade an emotional farewell to Real Madrid fans at a sold-out Santiago Bernabeu in a 0-0 draw with Real Betis.

    One of Madrid's most decorated players, Kroos confirmed this week that he will be retiring after Euro 2024.

    That made Saturday's meeting with Betis his final LaLiga match for Madrid, who eased to the title this season and will now look ahead to next week's Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

    While that clash at Wembley will be Kroos' last in club football, he was able to say goodbye to the Madrid fans, with the match all about the 34-year-old, with nothing left to be decided in the standings.

    Kroos fought back tears as walked onto the pitch through a corridor formed by his team-mates, who were wearing his number eight jersey as the fans held up a giant flag with his face and the words "Thank you, legend" which covered the south stand.

    In the 87th minute, Kroos, who saw a free-kick saved by Betis' Fran Vieites, broke down in tears when, after receiving another standing ovation as he was substituted, he embraced his three children who were all crying on the sidelines.

    The game was stopped for several minutes as Kroos hugged each of his team-mates, as well as coach Carlo Ancelotti.

    Ferland Mendy and Vinicius Junior went closest to breaking the deadlock for Madrid, while Hector Bellerin missed from a free header for Betis and Thibaut Courtois pulled off some fine saves either side of the break.

    Data Debrief: Kroosing into retirement

    What a career Kroos has had, not only at Madrid, but at Bayern Munich beforehand.

    On his 306th LaLiga appearance, a tally bettered by only one other German (Bernd Schuster, with 316), Kroos bowed out in typical style, having the most touches (122), creating the most chances (three), playing the most passes (110) and completing the most passes (107) of any player on the pitch.

    Madrid might be in safe hands with Jude Bellingham, but Kroos will certainly be missed.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.