FA Cup: Tottenham Hotspur reach final with win over Leicester

Martha Thomas celebrates with teammates after scoring her team's second goal during the FA Cup Semi Final
Martha Thomas celebrates with teammates after scoring her team's second goal during the FA Cup Semi Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to score a winner in extra time and book a place in the Women’s FA Cup Final for the first time in their history.

Substitute Martha Thomas headed the winner in the 118th minute to send the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium wild and break Leicester City hearts.

Pre-match

This one meant a lot for both teams as they lined up in their first FA Cup semi-final. There wasn’t a half-and-half scarf in sight. The attendance of 18,078 was determined to make it a memorable one. Flags were waving, fans were singing, and even the odd vuvuzela was trumpeting.

The draw for this round saw both teams avoid reigning FA Cup winners Chelsea, and WSL top four side Manchester United, both littered with Lionesses. Spurs upgraded the match to the 65,000 capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and they did a mighty effort of selling more than 17,000 home tickets. Leicester City put on free coaches for their fans to attend this match, smashing their previous away attendance record.

The first half

Tottenham had early chances as Grace Clinton and Celine Bizet combined well, but the Norwegian couldn’t test Lize Kop in the Leicester goal. On the 12th minute, Leicester’s top scorer Jutta Rantala scored out of nothing. She received a pass on the edge of the box from CJ Bott, cut in from the right and hit a rocket into the middle of the net. The power alone enough to beat the surprised Becky Spencer, stunning the home crowd and sending the away fans into delirium.

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Tottenham created many chances, with Evelina Summanen looking a threat, and Ash Neville attempting to push her team forward. It was Leicester who came closest to scoring again though. Captain Sam Tierney forced a great save from Spencer from close range. The end-to-end match continued with both sides having chances, but it was Leicester who led 0-1 at the break.

The second half

Straight from kick-off, Leicester striker Lena Petermann was through on goal but failed to get a clean connection and Spencer collected. Tottenham always looked dangerous with the attacking prowess of Bethany England, who never stops working all over the pitch. It was England’s pass forward that finally undid a resolute Leicester.

The pass was allowed to bounce and Jessica Naz took a perfect touch to finish calmly around Kop. The 23-year-old made it 1-1 to get the home crowd onto their feet. With seven minutes left of normal time, both sides continued to push for a winner.

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Tottenham’s squad depth was clear to see when they brought on Thomas and continued to push for a winner. They almost found it when the substitute’s poked effort was superbly saved by Kop.

Finnish forward Rantala then sent a dipping free-kick at goal that was tipped on to the underside of the crossbar by Tottenham goalkeeper Spencer to keep the scores level.

Extra time

As the clock ticked down, Leicester fans were waiting to see if substitute goalkeeper Janina Leitzig would be brought on for penalties, a hero for them from 12 yards.

Spurs kept threatening. In the end, it was in the 118th minute that Thomas struck, sending a looping header beyond Kop. Absolute scenes of joy for the home fans, and no time for a comeback from Leicester.

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Spurs sealed a place at their first-ever FA Cup final, to face Man United at Wembley on May 12th. It was a brilliant match, with both teams playing to win it. There were a massive 34 shots between them, showing this cup has definitely not lost its magic.

Coming up next

Leicester left disappointed but with such a turbulent behind-the-scenes over the last few months, the players will be hoping for stability under a new manager to build on this next season. They return to WSL action away at Arsenal.

In manager Robert Vilahamn, Spurs have started to click. Already a history-making first season in charge with Tottenham, they will now get the chance to go all the way and lift a trophy. First, they face fellow finalists Man United in the WSL.

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