Sam Kerr strikes in extra-time as Chelsea defeat Man City to retain Women’s FA Cup

Chelsea 3-2 Man City: Hayley Raso’s 89th minute goal helped City force extra-time, but Kerr’s deflected goal secured the win for the Blues

<p>Magdalena Eriksson and Millie Bright of Chelsea lift the Vitality Women's FA Cup trophy</p>

Magdalena Eriksson and Millie Bright of Chelsea lift the Vitality Women's FA Cup trophy

Once again, on the biggest stage of all, Chelsea found a way. The champions of England have added the FA Cup to complete the double and deny Manchester City the same honour, after again digging to the depths of their resolve to get over the line. City looked superior for large parts of the contest at Wembley but Chelsea’s season has been a story of sensing the big moments and seizing them, and it has now finished on a resounding note.

Their mentality is typified by their goalscorers, the tireless Erin Cuthbert and Sam Kerr, who ensured that another FA Cup final would belong to her. The Chelsea striker had been quiet for much of the game but as legs tired and bodies waned in extra time, she found the energy to carry the ball from the halfway line and send a shot past Ellie Roebuck that took a heavy deflection off Alex Greenwood.

It was harsh on City, and particularly their captain Greenwood, who had been excellent in defence and set up Hayley Raso’s late equaliser to force extra-time with a perfect pass from deep. Lauren Hemp, who scored City’s first equaliser, was also outstanding, but although City had spent much of the match illustrating that on paper, they have the individual quality, it is the individual characters of this Chelsea team that elevates them to become this all-conquering beast of inevitability under Emma Hayes.

It's evident through Kerr, who has another two goals in a FA Cup final at Wembley, but also through the selfless Cuthbert, who once again answered the call when Chelsea needed her. Cuthbert was everywhere and picked up the player of the match award, leaving her completely drained by the end. Her stunning strike from 20 yards, which cannoned off the underside of the crossbar, is an indication of her quality but it is her work off the ball that adds to her worth for Chelsea and this remarkable team.

Mentality monsters indeed, as Hayes said after Chelsea battled back to win the Women’s Super League title on the final day last weekend, and now they have another memorable day at Wembley to celebrate. They have gained revenge on City after losing the Conti Cup final to Gareth Taylor’s side, leaving no question of their dominance. The story of City’s season has been in their battle to gather strength and they arrived here on the back of 14 straight wins. This was one too far, even if they were better for much of the contest.

Sam Kerr shows what it mean to score the extra-time winner

Chelsea knew what was coming. Hayes always prepares for Hemp, even to the point of changing her plans. Here, the twist in the line-ups was the versatile Jess Carter being shifted to right-wingback to add another layer of protection. If that was an admission of where the game could be won and lost, it was how it initially played out. Having a plan is one thing, executing it and trying to stop Hemp is another. The 21-year-old was in thrilling form, a constant threat with her ability to duck inside and out. It was already too late for Chelsea when she cut into the box, as she bent a brilliant shot inside the far post for the equaliser shortly before half-time.

City had looked strong at that point and Chelsea were on the ropes at the break, with City’s midfield looking a step above the Women’s Super League champions. Kiera Walsh, Caroline Weir and Georgia Stanway operated superbly and in a game where individual battles looked to be key, it was City who had the edge. But Chelsea have something else, it’s why they’re champions, and there was a sense of inevitability about the opener, even as it came from nowhere. Millie Bright’s cross looped horribly for Roebuck and was met by Kerr, who else, to help it over the line.

Erin Cuthbert (centre) celebrates after scoring Chelsea’s second

City came out after half-time and threatened immediately through Hemp, who should have scored a second with a shot at the back post that was straight at Ann-Katrin Berger. They had more than enough chances to take the lead prior to Cuthbert’s late strike, but it is to City’s credit that they themselves dug in and stunned Chelsea with Raso’s late equaliser.

Ellen White was supposed to make the difference from the bench, but it was the Australian international Raso who snuck around the back of Magdalena Eriksson and finished past Berger to force extra time. The momentum was with City after the restart but as the final turned into a match of endurance it was Chelsea who persevered. Chelsea produced one final effort to secure a final win, as Kerr beat Alanna Kennedy to break through and then got a break as her shot deflected off Greenwood.

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