Man City 0-1 Chelsea: 3 takeaways from Conti Cup semi-final

Lauren James of Chelsea scores during the Continental Cup Semi Final match vs Manchester City
Lauren James of Chelsea scores during the Continental Cup Semi Final match vs Manchester City (Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images)

A tense semi-final saw Chelsea dominate Manchester City despite a 1-0 scoreline, after both teams sought out to meet Arsenal in the Continental Cup final. 

The game commenced with a strong start from Chelsea where Lauren James was able to pick up the ball from Maya Ramirez to her right, beating Khiara Keating by her post, with a slight deflection off Alex Greenwood in the ninth minute. 

Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor’s squad struggled throughout the Cup tie as Chelsea evidently pressed harder and strained their opponents’ attempts of being able to keep up. Hopes for an equaliser were swiftly overlooked as a penalty was waived away despite a foul towards Greenwood just minutes before full-time. 

Despite an early lead, the visitors were unable to add any extra goals on the scoreline. However, they were able to keep a clean sheet and deny City any chances of a possible equaliser throughout the rest of the game. Here were our three main takeaways from the match.

Manchester City will need to recalibrate

City’s defeat was a big blow to their Conti Cup hopes. They won’t be able to play this way for the remainder of the season, given the performance of their result. With seven league games and a tight title race to go, City will have to make minor changes. Given that the starting XI that Taylor used for the semi-final was a similar squad that often starts in the league, it does not look promising with little to commiserate.

City threw everything they could at the second half and eventually were able to pick up the momentum but the squad looked evidently tired and outplayed. Taylor’s back three had not changed since the first minute but were seen as a liability, considering the flurry of chances that Chelsea were able to attempt but sadly went wide.

The hosts had poor combination passes and struggled to open up and play the ball without Chelsea taking advantage. An overall lack of clinical edge saw Taylor’s side lose their spot once again in the final. 

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Chelsea’s resilience

Chelsea excelled with their Cup performance and were able to dig in against Man City. Pressing harder every minute saw City struggle to keep up with their opponents and create multiple mistakes on the pitch. The game saw the Blues have long spells of possession and the talented Hannah Hampton was praised throughout the night by fans online, as well as after the match by both Emma Hayes and Taylor.

James’ early lead was a fine strike that ultimately ended up as the winner to secure a Conti Cup final. The linkup between James and Ramirez created a pair of firsts. James’ goal marked her first in the Conti Cup this season, and Ramirez’ notched her first assist for the club.

Hayes mastered her out of possession game plan and praised her team for their performance. She said that they were aggressive with their press and despite that opening up space in between the lines, the squad dealt with it well. They were okay to be without the ball before getting a hold of the game again and changing into a back five with a three in the middle. 

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Further supporting training for referees

City’s semi-final against Chelsea seemed to create questions from fans and the manager. Taylor criticised how referee Andrew Kitchen was unable to award City a penalty before the end of the game. 

It looked to fans, commentators and even Taylor, that Greenwood was fouled by the edge of the box. However, the appeal from the Sky Blues fell on deaf ears as it was swiftly dismissed by Kitchen. 

Chaos had surrounded the penalty box with not much clearly seen from the seats nor on camera due to a large amount of bodies by the area. A disappointed Taylor spoke out on the incident afterwards. He said that he could not understand how the referee didn’t see anything despite being so close to the players. Taylor also added that it would have been nice to have a VAR system to check back on the situation. 

Chelsea will now face defending champions Arsenal at Molineux on March 31st, in a repeat of last year’s final.

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