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



Posted Sunday, April 14, 2024 by PA

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

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.

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