Manchester City charge from behind to lift Conti Cup trophy over Chelsea

Steph Houghton and Ellen White of Manchester City lift the FA Women's Continental Tyres League cup trophy.
Steph Houghton and Ellen White of Manchester City lift the FA Women's Continental Tyres League cup trophy following their side's victory over Chelsea at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on 5 March 2022. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

A defiant Manchester City brought Chelsea to their knees in a lethal second half display during the Continental Tyres Cup final.

Gareth Taylor’s side were slow to start against the 2021 cup holders, but their ruthless comeback after the break saw City prevail with a 3-1 victory.

Both teams went into the clash without the familiar leadership in the starting XI. City’s captain Steph Houghton continues to recover from surgery, whilst Magdalena Eriksson reappeared on the bench for the rivals.

Chelsea’s squad was further depleted by the absences of Fran Kirby, Jessie Fleming, and Erin Cuthbert to illness and injury. Meanwhile, City’s threatening lineup saw Caroline Weir and Hayley Raso replace Vicky Losada and Jess Park in the midfield.

First half: good performance Chelsea

As anticipated, the match began with a fierce and largely even battle between the two top sides. Both teams had early chances from set-pieces. They, however, fell victim to loose passes and poor decision-making in the first half. Chelsea worked hard to break down their rivals, with Sam Kerr’s deftly-turned touch in the box finally slicing through the sky blue defence just after the half-hour mark.

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Second half for Manchester City

The second half saw Chelsea out in front, but Man City came out of the dressing room with a completely different mentality. City seized their chance as Chelsea’s Niamh Charles left the pitch for minor treatment; her teammates barely reacted to the swarm of City shirts into their half before Weir sealed the deal with a strike.

Eight minutes later City were in front. Ellen White poached the rebound as Ann-Katrin Berger tried to block a well-placed shot from Lauren Hemp.

Emma Hayes subbed forward Lauren James on to try and rejuvenate her attack, but once again Chelsea’s defence fell short. Weir found herself again with ample time and space to boot a powerful volley into the top of the net.

The brace by the Scot dimmed Chelsea’s hopes of securing the trophy with only twenty minutes left to play. The London side seemed to be wearing thin, with tired legs unable to hang onto the ball. Lack of creativity and communication in the midfield clouded Chelsea’s usual attacking vision, whilst City only appeared more hungry for the win.

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After a blundering start to the season, Manchester City displayed a far more characteristic dominance over their long-time rivals. For Chelsea, there will be bitter disappointment and a lot to learn from. Especially if Hayes’ side hope to hold onto their league title and FA Cup silverware in the coming weeks.

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