Conti Cup: Arsenal cruise to the final after 4-0 win

Stina Blackstenius of Arsenal celebrates with Alessia Russo after scoring a goal
Stina Blackstenius of Arsenal celebrates with Alessia Russo after scoring during the Continental Cup Semi Final match vs Aston Villa (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Arsenal claimed victory over Aston Villa in the semi-final of the Continental Cup on Wednesday evening. The Gunners have booked their spot in the final of the tournament and will face either Chelsea or Manchester City.

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall made big changes to his starting 11, with Leah Williamson, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Stina Blackstenius all starting. The latter scored a hat-trick to see her side over the line, accompanied by a goal from Frida Maanum.

The Gunners unleashed a relentless offensive onslaught from the off against Aston Villa, seizing every opportunity to send the ball soaring into the back of the net.

Starting XIs

Arsenal

Zinsberger; McCabe, Williamson, Wubben-Moy, Catley, Maanum, Wälti, Mead, Blackstenius, Cooney-Cross, Russo

Aston Villa

Leat; Mayling, Turner, Patten, Pacheco, Nobbs, Corsie, Dali, Lehmann, Hanson, Daly

Arsenal cruise into the Conti Cup final

Right from the opening minute, Arsenal announced their intentions as Blackstenius sprinted down the right flank. Alessia Russo lunged to retrieve the ball from the far post, but narrowly missed. 

Following a pass from Maanum into the box, Blackstenius grasped the opportunity and swiftly connected with the ball. A clean strike followed, propelling the ball into the back of the net and securing the lead for Arsenal.

Only 90 seconds after her first goal, Blackstenius found herself scoring a second goal from a Beth Mead assist. The Lioness swung the ball in from the right of the box, with Blackstenius cleaning up the rebound off Russo.

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Aston Villa found themselves with a promising chance of getting on the scoresheet with a free-kick. Kenza Dali gave a hopeful delivery into the box but Manuela Zinsberger was able to come off her line to make an easy collection of the ball to continue play. 

Villa’s efforts of squashing Arsenal’s lead were crushed in the 18th minute when Maanum took a shot from outside the box, catapulting her side to a 3-0 lead. 

Danger continued for Villa as Blackstenius secured her hat-trick in the last five minutes of the first half. A free kick from Mead saw the ball fall to Lotte Wubben-Moy, who was able to volley the ball back into the box, offering the goal to Blackstenius.

Aston Villa lost one of their star players in Kirsty Hanson to injury just minutes before the half-time whistle.

Second half

Arsenal stormed into the second half with unwavering intensity, asserting dominance by maintaining possession.

In a powerful offensive move, Maanum unleashed a shot on goal, testing Anna Leat. With steady hands, Leat expertly saved the shot, squashing Arsenal’s attempt. Despite the momentary setback, the Gunners showcased resilience, proving that their energy levels remain high, ready to maintain the same standard of play demonstrated in the first half. The game continued with anticipation as Arsenal commanded the pitch with relentless determination.

In the 48th minute, Maanum electrified the pitch with what seemed like a spectacular goal, only to be denied by the offside flag. Her clean finish, if validated, would have marked her second goal, adding an extra layer of excitement to the match.

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Aston Villa seized the moment with a swift break, but Maz Pacheco fumbled, losing control of the ball. The game took a thrilling turn as Katie McCabe surged down the right wing. Despite her efforts, she lost possession. 

Ebony Salmon created a noteworthy opportunity, one of the first instances in the game where Villa demonstrated a promising chance to make an impact. She charged towards the ball with lightning speed, but her efforts were quickly ended by an outstanding clearance from Williamson.

Every time Villa attempted to build a promising play, their efforts were swiftly intercepted, showcasing Arsenal’s unbeatable defence and ability to disrupt Villa’s rhythm. The Villans looked for every chance to get onto the scoresheet but were faced with disappointment. 

After a dominant performance, Arsenal are through to the final of the Continental Cup, where a familiar Women’s Super League rival will await them.

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