An empty Wembley Stadium beckoned the two surviving teams on an overcast day in the capital. In never-before-seen circumstances, the players laced up their boots in preparation for the first of two FA Cup finals this season.
Holding champions Manchester City set out to keep hold of their crown against a resilient Everton.
It was a cagey first half between the two Women’s Super League outfits. Despite dominating the opening 45 with 74% possession, City were put to the test as the Toffees stood strong in defence.Embed from Getty Images
Spurred on by the thought of writing women’s football history, Gareth Taylor’s side found a way through. Up stepped Alex Greenwood to take City’s second corner of the game. The Lioness whipped in the cross, picking out international rival Sam Mewis in the box.
The USWNT star latched onto the inch-perfect ball and thumped the opening goal past a helpless Sandy MacIver.
Everton came out fighting in the second half, desperately searching for their chance to put a foot back into the game. The Blues goalkeeper looked determined to rectify conceding the first goal with a stunning save to deny former teammate Chloe Kelly.Embed from Getty Images
Lifted by MacIver’s heroics, Everton found the equaliser through Valerie Gauvin on the hour mark. Another corner situation created the goal, with Izzy Christiansen on duty this time to provide the assist.
A Nail-biting FA Cup Final
Despite chances for both sides in the second half, neither could break down the opposition’s defence. A tense affair trickled into extra time as Man City looked desperate to kill the game off with another goal.
Indeed, the Citizens had some golden chances in the first half of extra-time. Two occasions of supreme Everton defending denied the holding champions their way to glory.Embed from Getty Images
Some last-ditch Megan Finnigan reflexes and yet another leaping save by MacIver kept the Toffees alive as the clock ticked down.
But hearts shattered on Merseyside in the 112th minute. A lovely passage of play from substitutes Jess Park and Georgia Stanway put the nail in the coffin for Everton. The latter sliced a low driven shot towards the Blues goal, seeing her attempt creep over the line despite MacIver’s attempts to save.Embed from Getty Images
Determined to make a statement, City rubbed salt into the wound after Janine Beckie slotted a third goal home to confirm the cup as theirs.
Man City will take the FA Cup back home as they win the title for the second year running. One more cup final is due to played this season now that women’s football has had chance to catch up on last term’s lost time.