Shoot-out has unhappy ending for Chelsea Ladies
Birmingham City 2 Chelsea 2 (aet; Birmingham win 3-2 on penalties)
Sunday 27 May 2012
Birmingham prevented Chelsea Ladies from following in the trophy-winning footsteps of their male counterparts by winning a dramatic Women's FA Cup final on penalties.
While Roberto Di Matteo's team of millionaires won the FA Cup at Wembley and added the Champions' League title by beating Bayern Munich, who they beat on spot-kicks, Matt Beard's women's side could not manage to add another trophy to the club's collection. Instead it was Birmingham lifting their first Women's FA Cup, at Bristol City's ground.
Chelsea went ahead through Helen Lander after 69 minutes, and looked certain winners until Rachel Williams hit a stoppage-time equaliser.
The London side moved in front again in the 101st minute when the substitute Kate Longhurst struck, but a free-kick from Karen Carney hauled Birmingham back to 2-2 with nine minutes of extra-time remaining.
It came down to a penalty shoot-out and Birmingham were the more assured, missing only their first when Williams saw a tame sidefooted shot easily gathered.
Rachel Unitt, Jodie Taylor and Carney stepped up to score for the midlands side, with misses for Chelsea from Drew Spence, Claire Rafferty and finally Gemma Bonner, who fired the ninth kick of the shoot-out over the bar, handing the trophy to Birmingham.
Birmingham peppered the Chelsea goal early on, Kerys Harrop, Taylor and Carney threatening, before Chelsea's Lander hit a sweet left-footed shot that Rebecca Spencer dived at full stretch to push away. Lander then fired against the right post before the break.
The breakthrough came when Lander swept past Laura Bassett on the edge of the penalty area and drilled a powerful left-footed strike beyond Spencer.
Birmingham's Taylor had a backheeled effort cleared off the line in the 90th minute, leading to a corner from which the first equaliser came, Williams sidefooting through a crowd of players.
Carney had a close-range shot blocked in the 101st minute and Chelsea broke with a long kick from goalkeeper Carly Telford. Bassett and Spencer left the ball for each other, allowing Longhurst to run through and shoot powerfully into the left corner.
Birmingham's second equaliser, which brought about penalties, prompted Chelsea complaints. Carney was allowed to take a quick free-kick on the edge of the penalty area and curled a shot into the top right corner, with Telford still organising her wall.
Birmingham Spencer, Weston, Harrop (Aluko, 63), Bassett, Williams, Carney, Potter, Moore, Taylor, Unitt, Westwood.
Chelsea Telford, Fay (Perry, 70), Bonner, Sherwood, Buet, Lander (Longhurst, 76), Rafferty, Bleazard, Ingle, Susi, Coombs (Spence, 57).
Referee Natalie Walker
Man of the match Carney (Birmingham)
Match rating: 7/10
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