Manchester City’s victory over West Ham in the semi-final meant that they were heading for Wembley for a fourth FA Cup final in the last six seasons. The match against Chelsea was a repeat of March’s League Cup final which City won 3-1. Whichever team triumphed would be winning a double, after Chelsea secured the Women’s Super League title last weekend. A victory for Emma Hayes’ side would also mean that following 2020-21’s Treble, Chelsea would have won five of the six domestic trophies on offer over the past two seasons. The two sides have developed a strong rivalry in recent years, with Chelsea’s dominance only punctured by City’s success in the cup competitions.
The FA Cup is still a special competition for players, coaches and supporters. It’s never lost its magic
Gareth Taylor - Manchester City Head Coach
Fans, merchandise and a police horse on a rainy Wembley Way
Presenter Joelah Noble interviews Kimberly Wyatt, who is a former Pussycat Doll and is taking part in the half-time show
Wembley starts to fill up with Chelsea and Manchester City fans
Fans and players sing the national anthem (above); City’s Georgia Stanway and Chelsea’s Sophie Ingle in action.
After a blistering start by City, with Caroline Weir going close on a couple of occasions, Chelsea steadied the ship and the game developed into a cagey one with both teams playing cautiously, desperate not to concede the first goal. Sam Kerr did breach the City defence in the 18th minute (below) when she raced through and finished with aplomb, but her effort was chalked off for offside.
Kerr found the net again 15 minutes later, when she headed home Millie Bright’s looping cross. This time the goal stood, and Chelsea had the lead.
Differing emotions in the stands following Kerr’s goal, while her teammates celebrate (below).
Manchester City equalised just before half-time courtesy of a wonderful curling effort by Lauren Hemp, seen below surging past Chelsea defender Millie Bright.
Chelsea’s lead was restored shortly after the hour mark when Erin Cuthbert’s piledriver of a shot from outside the area flew past Manchester City keeper Ellie Roeback, going in off the underside of the bar.
Manchester City stepped up the pressure in the search for an equaliser and in the 89th minute, Hayley Raso chested down a long ball, held off the challenge of Magdalena Eriksson and poked the ball home, sending raptures of delight through the City fans as the game went to extra time.
City carried that momentum into the first half of extra-time and went close on a number of occasions – but the pendulum swings again in the 99th minute. City’s Alanna Kennedy misjudged a bouncing ball just inside the Chelsea half, which allowed Sam Kerr time and space to break forward. From just inside the City area, the Australian hits a shot that takes a big deflection off the stretching Alex Greenwood, wrong-footing Roebuck and putting Chelsea in front for a third time.
I always felt give Sam [Kerr] one chance, just one chance. We’ve got an amazing centre-forward
Emma Hayes - Chelsea Manager
That is the best FA Cup final I have ever watched
Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis
City search in vain for another equaliser but time is against them, and the final whistle sparks scenes of joy among Chelsea players and fans.
City will be gutted, but they’ve played their part in a superb occasion and left it all out there
Izzy Christiansen - Former Manchester City midfielder
Those women will go down in history ... it’s the best team I’ve ever coached
The victory over City was Chelsea’s fourth FA Cup triumph, all of them under Hayes and it takes her trophy haul with the club up to 13. “That was so amazing for the women’s game today,” she said afterwards. “I love playing Manchester City – it is football of the highest level. Tactically both teams have their strengths. I thought we were really bold and for that reason, that’s why were on the winning team.’
• Click here to catch up on our series of picture essays on the road from Willenhall to Wembley