By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium
Chelsea 3 v Manchester City 2 (after extra time)
FA Cup Final
49, 094 in attendance
Sam Kerr has done it again – she’s only gone and won the FA Cup in for the west Londoners.
Add the WSL title and the Blues have done the historic double – again.
Make no mistake, this was a hard fought, gutsy and at times frustrating performance by Chelsea, who never were behind in a 3-2 extra-time thriller.
But in Kerr they have a match-winner and her brace coupled with a thunderbolt by Erin Cuthbert brought home the silverware once again.
Manchester City had won their past 13 games and were on fire – but Chelsea stuck to their game plan, which was to absorb the pressure, and be clinical when given the chance on the counter-attack.
City pegged the Blues back twice but never found enough to overhaul the Blues, who in Kerr have a player who is quite different to anything else in the country.
Caroline Weir had the first effort on goal, a sliced angled, left-footer over Ann-Katrin Berger’s crossbar after just two minutes.
Chelsea recovered from this to dig a foothold into the game. City’s defence however easily dispelled and crosses into their penalty area.
Chelsea’s Sam Kerr was clearly offside when she raced onto a through ball by Erin Cuthbert, dinked the ball past Ellie Roebuck and slotted the ball home on18 minutes.
In fact she and Pernille Harder were offside in fact.
But it was the Londoners who broke the deadlock on 33 minutes when a deep right-sided cross by Millie Bright, arrowed over Roebuck’s head and Kerr was on hard at the far post to nod the ball into the back of the net.
But the lead was short-lived as player of the half, Lauren Hemp, show a clean pair of heels to first Jess Carter and then Millie Bright, before cutting a right-footed curler past Berger.
Carter managed to thwart Georgia Stanway’s goal-bound effort, deep into added time, deflecting the ball for a corner.
There were no substitutions by either side at half-time.
City restated the game like a bullet, pressing the Blues right back to their 12 yard box, snatching corners and applying constant pressure. Chelsea could hardly get out of their own half.
Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes, sensing the game was slipping away from them looked to her bench and told Ji to get ready. But just before she made the change, up stepped Erin Cuthbert to thrash home a thunderous right-footer high into the roof of Roebuck’s net to restore the Londoners’ lead on 63minutes.
Hayes decided to make the changes and Ji came on for England,. Niamh Charles replaced Nouwen.
This changed little straight away, as City continued to push forward for another equaliser.
Chelsea’s best policy of playing on the counter-attack a;most reaped dividends on 78 minutes when a long run by Harder on the right saw Kerr scuff a shot, which saw the ball fall to Reiten, who curled a right-footer wide of goal.
Jessie Fleming then came on for Harder with 10 minutes left.
But with two minutes left on the clock, City got the goal their play deserved. Substitute Hayley Raso got the blind side of Magda Eriksson and raced into the Chelsea area. She the toe-poked the ball and it flew past Berger to make the score 2-2.
Chelsea retook the lead once again, nine minutes into extra time.
Kerr raced clear, arrowing down on the City goal, Fleming was to her left. But the Australian was in no mood to pass the ball. Instead she let fly with a daisy-cutter. The ball took a slight deflection off Alex Greenwood’s outstretched leg, and the ball zipped off the wet grass and into the left hand corner of the City goal.
City survived a score 20 minutes into extra time, when Greenwood hacked away a goal-bound effort.
With three minutes left, substitute Ji was substituted by Maren Mjelde.
It was an unglamorous end to her Chelsea career, but she was sacrificed to Hayes tactics to kill off the game – it worked
Teams: Chelsea, Berger, Nouwen, Bright, Ingle, Carter, England, Reiten, Eriksson, Kerr, Cuthbert, Harder’
Subs: Musovic, Ji, Kirby, Fleming, Mjelde, James, Charles, Spence, Andersson
Man City, Roebuck, Stokes, Greenwood, Kelly, Stanway, Hemp, Weir, Bronze, Shaw, Walsh, Kennedy
Subs: Keating, Coombs, Angeldahl, Raso, Park, Losada, White, Mace, Blakstad
Referee: Kirtsy Dowle