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Tottenham Women 2-1 Leicester Women (AET): Martha Thomas sends Spurs into their first FA Cup final with extra-time winner

Match report as Tottenham reached their first Women's FA Cup final with a 2-1 extra-time win over Leicester; Jutta Rantala gave the Foxes an early lead but Jessica Naz equalised with eight minutes remaining to force extra-time, where Martha Thomas scored a late winner

Martha Thomas celebrates her dramatic winner for Spurs
Image: Martha Thomas celebrates her dramatic winner for Spurs

Martha Thomas came off the bench to score an extra-time winner to send Tottenham into their first Women's FA Cup final, leaving Leicester heartbroken.

Tottenham were made to work for their spot at Wembley on May 18, as Leicester took the lead thanks to Jutta Rantala's stunning solo strike, silencing the 18,078 supporters at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Foxes, still managerless after the sacking of Willie Kirk due to a breach of the team's code of conduct, thought they had the final spot but Josie Green's error allowed Jessica Naz to score with eight minutes of normal time remaining to the delight of the home crowd.

Leicester struck the crossbar in the first half of extra-time through Rantala, but Spurs' substitute striker Thomas popped up with a looping header for the winner with the match moments from penalties.

Spurs players congratulate Jessica Naz after her equaliser against Leicester
Image: Spurs players congratulate Jessica Naz after her equaliser against Leicester

Tottenham will face either Manchester United or Chelsea in the Wembley final on May 12.

How Spurs got on their way to Wembley

With both teams playing in their first FA Cup semi-final, they came flying out of the blocks, with Leicester having the first chance through captain Sam Tierney, who tried to chip Spurs goalkeeper Becky Spencer, who was off her line, from 35 yards, but the chance fell wide.

Player ratings

Tottenham: Spencer (6); Neville (7), James-Turner (6), Buhler (7), Nilden (6); Spence (6), Clinton (7), Summanen (5); Bizet (5), England (6), Naz (7)

Subs: Thomas (7), Graham (7), Vinberg (7), Grant (6), Ahtinen (6)

Leicester: Kop (7); Bott (6), Green (5), Howard (7), Cayman (7); Takarada (7), Tierney (7), Momiki (6); Rantala (7), Petermann (6), Rose (7)

Subs: Pelgander (7), O’Brien (7), Thibaud (6), Whelan (6), Palmer (6)

Player of the match: Jessica Naz (Tottenham)

Spurs stepped on the accelerator themselves and Celin Bizet missed two big chances to take the lead, seeing one close-range shot saved by Lize Kop, before blazing over from inside the box on the break after good work from Grace Clinton.

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But then came Leicester's stunning opener as Rantala burst down the right and cut inside, before unleashing an unstoppable drive past Spencer into the roof of the net.

Jutta Rantala celebrates after giving Leicester the lead against Spurs
Image: Jutta Rantala celebrates after giving Leicester the lead against Spurs

Spurs tried to respond straight away but Clinton fired straight at Kop, while, at the other end, Tierney missed a golden chance to make it two as Spencer kicked away her close-range effort after good work down the left by Deanna Rose.

Naz curled two chances wide of goal for Spurs, who also saw Eveliina Summanen head a corner over from close range. The hosts ended the first half very frustrated.

The flurry of chances continued after the break. Leicester's Lena Petermann had a shot blocked well by Luana Buelher in the box, before Bethany England and Amanda Nilden both fired wide from good areas for Spurs.

A glorious Spurs chance then fell to Summanen, who scooped over the bar from a few yards out after a near-post corner caused havoc in the Leicester penalty area.

Spurs brought on Thomas off the bench in a bid to boost their attacking numbers but they actually struggled. Their next good chance to equalise came in the final 10 minutes of the game when England headed over a corner at the near post.

Drew Spence battles for possession with Sam Tierney
Image: Spurs were frustrated for most of the semi-final

But then came the equaliser as Green failed to clear a long ball which allowed Naz through on goal, with the Spurs winger finishing coolly to send the home fans wild.

Spurs were not done there as they had three golden chances to take the lead before full-time. First Thomas' strike was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Kop, who was also equal to Amy James-Turner's header from the resulting corner.

Substitute Charlotte Grant thought she had scored the winner for the home side when she latched onto a cross unmarked at the far post, but fired wide of the near post.

Spurs players celebrate their late winner
Image: Spurs players celebrate their late winner

So extra-time ensued and Leicester had by far the best chance of the first period, with Rantala striking the bar from a free-kick on the edge of the box. Moments later, Leicester screamed for a penalty for an alleged foul on Sophie Howard, which Leicester assistant manager Jennifer Taylor describing the spot kick appeal as "clear as day" after the game.

Spurs substitute Matilda Vinberg had her side's best opportunity, stinging Kop's palms at the near post. But, with penalties just moments away, Thomas settled it by latching onto Vinberg's deflected cross to nod home the winning goal into the far corner, with the excellent Kop rooted to the spot.

Vilahamn: We haven't won anything yet

Spurs players celebrate their late winner
Image: Spurs players celebrate their late winner

Tottenham manager Robert Vilahamn: "I'm very proud. To do it at this stadium in front of so many fans and show we can perform on this stage and go to Wembley makes me very happy.

"It was back and forth in my head, I didn't know we would find ways to get back in the game. I'm never giving up and the players show that in a good way. The finishers came in and did amazing stuff. We showed it against Man City and showed it today, it adds more character to the group and is good for the future.

"Martha Thomas is what Tottenham represents - to dare is to do. I'm happy for her and she has worked so hard in her career. It shows character, but it shows her, she's brilliant.

"We should celebrate that we have done something really good. It's worth celebrating - but it's worth saying we haven't won anything yet. We want to win a title for the fans and its club. We won't be favourites in that game, that's fine."

Taylor: We aren't little Leicester anymore

Jutta Rantala looks devastated at the full-time whistle
Image: Jutta Rantala looks devastated at the full-time whistle

Leicester assistant manager Jennifer Taylor: "It's immensely disappointing especially when it goes down to the wire. This will hurt and it will hurt for a little while. But this won't be the last time we're in a semi-final. Sometimes the best teams have to take a hit like we did today to progress.

"We scored a little bit earlier on, when you don't take those other chances it gives them the belief to build momentum and for them to be in within a chance. We didn't create enough clear-cut chances.

"We said at the start of the season that our ambition was to get as far as possible in the cup. We did that, the semi-final. Everyone said we're 'little Leicester' - we're not that, we're putting ourselves on the map. Hopefully next time, we will make it all the way to the final.

"We all need to look at it as learning. We have a lot of experience as internationals but a lot will not have played in a FA Cup semi-final before. We will take it as learnings and make sure we're ready next time."

What's next?

Tottenham travel to Man Utd next Sunday in the WSL, kick-off at 12pm.

Leicester next face a trip to Arsenal on the same afternoon, kick-off at 2pm.

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