Arsenal v Manchester City

Arsenal 0 v 0 Manchester City  (FA Women’s League Cup Final)

The first silverware of the season was up for grabs this weekend as Arsenal Women faced Manchester City Women in the FA Women’s League Cup Final at Bramall Lane, Sheffield which was a repeat of last season League Cup Final that Arsenal won 1-0.

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Arsenal had a number of senior players missing due to injury whilst top scorer Vivianne Miedema was on the substitutes bench as a precaution due to suffering from fatigue. The Gunners missed the Dutch International’s towering presence, classy movement and hold up play in the early stages of the first-half.

The Gunners had the first real effort of the half on eight minutes, when the Arsenal full back Veje crossed into the City area before the ball fell to McCabe at the edge of the area but her shot went over Bardsley’s crossbar.

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On twenty-one minutes, with the Gunners on top a Danielle Van De Donk cutback takes a wicked deflection off Houghton and almost finds the back of the net, from the resulting corner Leah Williamson headed over the Manchester City crossbar.

City’s first effort came on thirty-eight minutes as Georgia Stanway slalomed around the Arsenal defence inside the box before passing the ball to Tessa Wullaert who’s shot was deflected. Caroline Weir collected the ball just inside the area, but her first time effort went over Sari Van Veenedaal’s crossbar.

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The best chance of an otherwise quiet first half came in the final minute, as Arsenal keeper Sari Van Veenendaal produced a good save from Steph Houghton’s powerful downward header, City defender Gemma Bonner collect the rebound but could only send her effort past the post and out of a goal kick leaving the half-time score 0-0.

Arsenal started the second-half much the same as they did in the first and on fifty minutes went close to opening the scoring as Katie McCabe’s cross picked out Beth Mead inside the area, but she could only send her header wide of the target.

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On fifty-nine minutes, City should have taken the lead, following an excellent free-kick from Caroline Weir, which found Nikita Parris who should have scored with a flicked header from six yards which cannoned of the crossbar before being cleared by Janni Arnth.

Jill Scott was now starting to control the midfield and the match and her pass found Nikita Parris on seventy minutes, who again went close as she burst into the box and drilled a shot at goal, however there was too much power in the effort sailed into the stands.

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In the final five minutes of the half it was all Manchester City and with just two minutes on the clock Janine Beckie picked out Caroline Weir with an excellent through ball only to see her superb strike towards the goal, fantastically saved one-handed by Veenendaal.

Janine Beckie nearly won the game in the second minute of injury time after running down the right-wing and unleashing a shot from the edge of the penalty area, only to see the ball strike the angle of post and crossbar and bounce to safety making the final score 0-0 and sending the game into extra-time.

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The only really effort at goal in the first-half of extra-time fell to Nikita Parris on one hundred and eleven minutes, who was played in by Demi Stokes and after out pacing Janni Arnth she tried to chip Van Veenendaal on the six yard box, but the Arsenal saved well at Parris feet to leave the extra time half time score 0-0.

Just minutes left of extra-time and both sides are battling hard to prevent this going to penalties, with just two minutes of extra-time left Janine Beckie went close with a lovely curling attempt from the edge of the box but it narrowly missed the target sending the match to penalties.

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England keeper Karen Bardsley saved from Arsenal’s Leah Williamson and Danielle Van De Donk in the penalty shootout, after City’s 18-year-old substitute Lauren Hemp had seen her spot-kick saved by Van Veenendaal, leaving Manchester City 4-2 winners of the penalty shootout and the FA Women’s Continental League Cup Final Winners in front of 2,424 spectators in Sheffield.

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Manchester City impressive run now stretches to 28 league and cup games without defeat as Nick Cushing’s squad look to complete a domestic treble, having won the League Cup this weekend they will be looking to add the FA Cup and the Women’s Super League.

Speaking after the match Manchester City manager Nick Cushing said, “I was starting to think it was going to be the one that got away. We just didn’t put the ball away when we had the chance.  However the mentality of the group and their application was excellent.

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I expected it to be a cagey game and for them to come out and press us, but I thought the girls sorted it out on the pitch really well.  The teams excellent tactical understanding of how to get momentum in the game was incredibly today, it’s been a squad effort and to win the first trophy available this season after not winning anything last season shows the strength and the character of the group.”

Match Details

Arsenal – Veenedaal, Veje, Arnth, Williamson, Van De Donk, Little, McCabe, Quinn, Evans, Bloodworth, Mead (Subs) Peyraud-Magnin, Miedema, Kuyken, Albuquerque, Hazard

Manchester City – Bardsley, Stokes, Bonner, Beattie, Houghton, Scott, Stanway, Weir, Walsh, Wullaert, Parris (Subs) Roebuck, Bremer, Beckie, Hemp, Campbell, Emslie, McManus

Goals –  (Arsenal) Little, Bloodworth (Man City) Stanway, Emslie, Houghton, Beckie   Manchester City win 4-2 on Pens after extra-time (Penalty Scorers Above)

Attendance – 2,424

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