Chelsea Ladies finally broke their Manchester City hoodoo as they beat them at the fourth attempt to book a place at Wembley and the FA Cup Final. In a cagey match with very few clear cut opportunities, it took two clinical finishes from the fantastic Fran Kirby to clinch the win for the London side and deny the holders the chance to defend their trophy in the final.
The Chelsea squad was dealt a blow with the news that Ramona Bachmann was ill on Saturday night and had to pull out of Sunday afternoon’s game. Ji So-Yun was also still on international duty and so had to miss out on the important match. Erin Cuthbert replaced Bachmann and joined Kirby up top with Drew Spence playing just behind them. Man City lined up in their typical 4-3-3 formation but Nick Cushing sprung a surprise by playing Izzy Christiansen on the left wing instead of in the centre of midfield.
The game got off to a fast start for Chelsea with both Kirby and Cuthbert driving straight to the heart of the City defence with the ball early on. It wasn’t long until the scoresheet was broken as Fran Kirby capitalised on a defensive mix up. A long hoof down field wasn’t dealt with by City captain Steph Houghton and Kirby stole in to bear down on goal and finish confidently. That goal allowed Chelsea to remain in the ascendency as City struggled to break the Blues back line down. The lead should have been doubled after a smartly worked corner left Maren Mjelde free on the edge of the box. Her sweetly struck volley was goal bound but was cleared off the line.
The second half saw a renewed optimism from Man City but they were still not making much headway. They continued to build pressure but the Chelsea defenders were remaining solid. After another spell of pressure, a hurried clearance led to the second goal of the game. Erin Cuthbert cleared the ball after a threatening cross had been put in by Nikita Parris; City defender Jane Beattie failed to cut the ball out and the ball ran through to Fran Kirby again who showed immaculate composure to cut back inside an onrushing City defender before calmly finishing with her left foot.
The second goal knocked all the enthusiasm out of the Manchester City players and Chelsea comfortably rounded the game out to stay on course for the treble. City will now be left to focus on the Champions League and the WSL 1 title as they remain three points behind Chelsea with a game in hand. Chelsea will face Arsenal in the final after they defeated Everton Ladies 2-1.
Player of the Match: Fran Kirby (Chelsea) – The talented goal scorer didn’t disappoint as she capitalised on two defensive errors to send her side to the final.