After a long wait and nervy match, Beth England’s last gasp goal finally gifted Emma Hayes her Conti Cup win.
Blues on top
If the script was pre-written for Chelsea to write a new page of Conti Cup history and her their names (and hands) on the trophy for the first time, the Blues weren’t going to deny their own history and wasted no time in claiming the lead.
A searing run from Jonna Andersson was finished off with a lofted cross that, had it not been for Maren Mjelde’s own blistering run down the opposite flank would have drifted out harmlessly, but with Mjelde deployed at right-back, the Norway captain was on hand to nod the ball back into the mixer. From then the first melee of the game ensured with Beth England lashing home the loose ball to give Chelsea an eighth minute lead.
Yet instead of adding to their tally, the Blues found themselves pegged back with Arsenal on the offensive. Nibble feet from Leah Williamson in the box drew the first penalty shout of the game as she had her feet taken from under her, with the referee unmoved the Gunners kept the ball alive. Katie McCabe’s whipped cross was well met by Louise Quinn who saw her header saved by Ann-Katrin Berger, the German coming up trumps again to deny Jordan Nobbs at the near post moments later. Although the action wasn’t all one-way, Berger was the busier of the two keepers as both teams looked for a spark in front of goal.
Gunners on the hunt
After the break it was more of the same from the Gunners as they chased an equaliser, only pushing Chelsea further and further back but every shot was blocked or sent just side. With time all but ticked away, Arsenal finally found the back of the net with their first corner that wasn’t sent to the near post, and just as it had for Chelsea, the resulting melee brought about a roar from the crowd as Williamson fired home.
Having dominated the chances and the possession, Arsenal gave one last push desperate to avoid extra time with the knowledge of a perilously thin bench to call upon yet found themselves short at the back and Chelsea sprung back into life. With Sam Kerr working hard on the edge of the box, and Mjelde coming up to support, England was left free at the back post to slot the ball over the line when found by Mjelde. Once more the crowd let out an elated roar, the match decided in stoppage time, the Conti Cup finally Chelsea’s.
Arsenal: Zinsberger, McCabe, Quinn, Schnaderbeck, Evans, Williamson, Nobbs (c), Roord, van de Donk, Miedema, Foord.
Chelsea: Berger, Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson (c), Andersson, Ingle, Reiten, Ji (Thorisdottir 77’), Cuthbert, England, Kerr (Spence 90+2).
Goals: England 8’, Williamson 85’, England 90+2
Cautions: Eriksson 55′, McCabe 74′, Cuthbert 77’
Referee: Helen Conley
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