As the 2020/21 FA Cup nears its conclusion, Manchester City welcomed Chelsea to the City Football Academy for their long awaited semi-final clash.
With the hosts being the current holders of the trophy, their meeting with the current Women’s Super League champions was always going to be a challenge for a squad plagued with injuries.
City had scored 19 goals so far in the competition whilst their opponents had found the back of the net 12 times since entering the competition in its fourth round.
Taieb; Stokes, Greenwood , Coombs, Scott, Stanway, Beckie, Hemp, White (c), Weir, Shaw, (Park ’45) Walsh (Losada ’67).
Berger; Nouwen, Bright, Ingle, Carter, Leupolz (Spence ’74), Reiten (Fleming ’74), Kirby (Charles ’79), Eriksson (c), Kerr (England ’59), Cuthbert.Embed from Getty Images
How it went
From the opening moments, the game presented opportunities for both sides to take an early lead.
A header by Fran Kirby sailed just past the post while Laura Coombs too had a chance to put her side ahead.
Both sides had further chances but it was Erin Cuthbert who was able to capitalise for the visitors. A corner played in short by Guro Reiten allowed the Scottish international to put the ball through Karima Taieb’s hands in the 23rd minute.
Just five minutes later, Melanie Leupolz doubled the Blues’ lead when a goalkeeping error allowed the ball into the bottom corner. Despite a series of chances for Chelsea, the first half ended with the hosts trailing by two goals.Embed from Getty Images
The second half offered much the same as the first. Gareth Taylor’s side were forced to defend for much of the game as Chelsea pressed for a third goal.
The hosts almost found a way back in as Caroline Weir curled the ball across the face of goal. However, Ellen White’s follow up passed just wide of the post.
The chances continued for both sides but neither team were able to add to the scoreline. That is, until Bethany England added a third for the visitors in the 89th minute.
An excellent Jessie Fleming cross allowed the Chelsea No.9 to easily head the ball clear of Taieb’s reach. Jess Park almost clawed one back for the hosts however her shot ricocheted back off the post.
Stand out player
Amongst a fantastic FA Cup team performance by Chelsea, Erin Cuthbert stood out from the opening minute of the clash. The Scottish international easily broke through the hosts defence on several occasions with Demi Stokes frequently struggling to keep up with her pace. Securing the opening goal for the visitors the No.22 was a constant threat for the Manchester City defence to handle.Embed from Getty Images
Post match thoughts
In his post match press conference, Gareth Taylor seemed to feel the game had been lost for his side in the first half.
Commenting on the first two goals, Taylor said: “I need to look at them again but you would expect them to be saved.”
Despite stating the need to improve the team’s quality in the final third,Taylor was positive about Lauren Hemp’s performance, stating that the No.15 was dangerous throughout the game.
Emma Hayes on the other hand was evidently pleased with her team’s performance.
She praised Chelsea’s willingness to work hard and improve throughout the season. She was also extremely positive about her opponents.
Speaking about City forward Hemp, Hayes said: “We had to minimise Hemp’s impact, she will always have an impact but it’s about minimising that.”
The Chelsea head coach also revealed that Maren Mjelde and Lauren James will feature in an academy game on Wednesday however the duo would not be in contention for their trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.