Manchester City won the Women’s FA Cup for the third time in four years after two goals deep into extra-time finally ended Everton’s hopes.
City dominated the opening exchanges of the fiftieth Women’s FA Cup Final in terms of possession but in that time never really bothered Sandy MacIver in the Toffees goal.
With eleven minutes on the clock, Ellen White combined with Sam Mewis, who in turn played in Chloe Kelly down the right. Everton’s Australian international Hayley Raso closed the City attacker down. The ongoing battle between Kelly and Raso was a fascinating battle whilst it lasted with both giving it everything.
It was Everton’s ability to rapidly get tight to City and close them down which quickly which frustrated much of the Sky Blues’ attacking movements in the first half.
With a quarter of an hour played, Everton created their first opportunity when Raso intercepted a poor cross field pass by Demi Stokes and got away before being brought down outside of the box by Lucy Bronze. The resulting free-kick eventually found its way to Demaris Egurrola whose effort went wide.
Sam Mewis’ influence on the final grew as the half went on. She combined well on twenty minutes with Chloe Kelly who she found on the right hand side of the box. Kelly cut inside and forced a good save from Sandy MacIver.
Valerie Gauvin had a good chance with ten minutes of the half for the Toffees when she powered a header wide from Ingrid Moe Wold’s cross from the right.
However, five minutes later another header from a corner had a far better outcome. City won a corner and Alex Greenwood’s devilish in-swinger was met by Mewis who was worryingly unmarked from an Everton perspective.
Gauvin broke through in stoppage time at the end of the first half but Steph Houghton slid in to clear the danger with the French star caught painfully by the follow through and had to leave the pitch ahead of the half-time whistle.
A heavily strapped Valerie Gauvin reappeared after the interval for Everton and had a key part to play in the second period.
Manchester City could have doubled their advantage on fifty-five minutes. Steph Houghton put in a through ball to Rose Lavelle. She found Caroline Weir who played a ball in which came off the back post to Chloe Kelly who smashed an effort which was stopped by Sandy MacIver who got up off of the turf from the original shot to make an absolutely outstanding save.
Another injury concern struck Everton when Hayley Raso was on the receiving end from Rose Lavelle. The Matilda was not quite the same after that and would leave the field with a quarter of an hour remaining.
The Toffees were buoyed my MacIver’s stunning save and earned an equaliser on the hour mark. Initially, Damaris’ header was brilliantly saved by Ellie Roebuck at the cost of a corner. Izzy Christiansen fired the resulting set piece right into the mix and Valerie Gauvin headed the ball home to level the scores.
City responded well, but were not able to penetrate the Merseysiders’ backline.
Everton went agonisingly close on seventy-three minutes when Danielle Turner combined with Nicoline Sorensen down the left. The Dane’s cross found the head of Gauvin but it went just the wrong side of the post.
With ten minutes left, Caroline Weir combined well with Chloe Kelly. The former Evertonian played a square ball to Georgia Stanway, who was located centrally outside the box, but the effort went wide of MacIver’s goal.
Sorensen created more problems for City with five minutes left when her attempted ball in from the right had to be tipped over for a corner by Roebuck.
It was City who had the best of the closing stages. Jess Park, the nineteen year-old played an impressive cameo after coming on as a substitute and her ball to Mewis with two minutes left resulted in the American firing over. Chloe Kelly also side footed an effort over from Lucy Bronze’s cross.
Deep into stoppage time, Demi Stokes pulled it back for Weir who hit her effort over the bar. Moments later, Mewis found Kelly who laid a ball off to Weir in front of goal again, but this time the Scot’s shot hit the bar and went over, and so the game went into extra time.
City remained on the front foot in the opening period of extra-time. A glorious cross field pass from Alex Greenwood found Park who laid a pass back to Sam Mewis, but MacIver dived on the effort.
Just before the end of the half-time in extra-time, a fantastic tackle from Megan Finnigan denied Georgia Stanway. From the resulting corner, Steph Houghton was denied by another glorious save from MacIver.
Five minutes into the second period of extra time, the decisive moment occurred. Jess Park made a brilliant run down the right and was played in by Lucy Bronze. A fantastically weighted pass found Georgia Stanway perfectly and the 21 year-old slid the ball under MacIver.
Janine Beckie completed the scoring with the final kick of the match when Stanway laid the ball off to her and she hit the ball across MacIver to make the final score 3-1.
Manchester City’s ability to go up a gear in the closing stages and through extra-time was ultimately the difference. Everton’s efforts were magnificent and they confirmed their status as a team who can live with the best teams in the land.
Everton: MacIver, Moe Wold, Turner, Finnigan, Sevecke, Egurrola, Christiansen, Raso, Graham, Sorensen, Gauvin. Substitutes: Korpeka (GK), Boye-Hlorkah, Magill, Stringer, Pike, Clemaron, Clinton, Pattinson.
Goals: Gauvin 60.
Manchester City: Roebuck, Bronze, Houghton, Greenwood, Stokes, Mewis, Walsh, Lavelle, Kelly, White, Weir. Substitutes: Bardsley (GK), Bonner, Coombs, Scott, Stanway, Beckie, Morgan, Park, Benameur (GK).
Scorers: Mewis 40, Stanway 111, Beckie 120+1
Referee: Rebecca Welch