Conti Cup: Lauren James takes Chelsea to the final

Lauren James of Chelsea celebrates scoring a goal during the Conti Cup semi-final
Lauren James of Chelsea celebrates scoring during the Continental Cup Semi Final vs Manchester City at Joie Stadium on March 07, 2024 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images)

In a blockbuster Continental Cup semi-final, Manchester City welcomed Chelsea to the Joie Stadium. The Blues, who are pushing for a dream farewell season for Emma Hayes, edged out a 1-0 win to reach their fifth consecutive final.

Chelsea will face reigning champions Arsenal at Molineux Stadium at the end of the month, recreating last season’s final.

The two sides had last met in the Women’s Super League in February, with the Sky Blues taking all three points from Kingsmeadow.

Starting XIs

Manchester City

Keating; Aleixandri, Greenwood, Coombs (Angeldahl ’81), Kelly, Hemp, Ouahabi (Fowler ’76), Park, Casparij, Shaw, Hasegawa

Chelsea

Hampton; Nusken, Carter, Leupolz, James, Reiten (Kaneryd ’64), Perisset, Charles, Cuthbert, Cankovic (Ingle ’77), Ramirez (Beever-Jones ’34)

How it went

After an initial slow start, Chelsea took an early lead with just eight minutes on the clock. A sloppy passage of defensive play saw the ball fall to Mayra Ramirez on the edge of the area. The Colombian international slotted the ball through to Lauren James, who duly tucked her effort beyond Khiara Keating.

A second defensive error from Man City almost cost again just seconds later. The chances highlighted a key weakness in the Sky Blues’ game-plan. A lack of flexibility in their attacking play meant City kept trying to play down the wings, despite Chelsea continuously closing the play down.

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The second half brought a far stronger performance for the hosts. A lack of clinical edge, however, left Gareth Taylor’s side unable to find the final touch in front of goal, with several forwards squandering their chances. City’s display was in stark contrast to their opponents, with Chelsea’s disciplined defensive effort.

Several late chances almost handed the hosts an equaliser. A penalty call deep into injury time was quickly dismissed by the officials as Alex Greenwood went down inside the area. Ultimately James’ goal would be enough to see the Blues safely through to the Conti Cup final, with Man City bowing out in the final four.

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