Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd: United suffer FA Cup final heartache as Blues reign supreme
Manchester United were left to rue numerous missed opportunties as a Pernille Harder inspired Chelsea lift the Women’s FA Cup in front of a world record crowd of 77,39 at Wembley.
Despite a dominant first half display, United were left wondering what might have been as Sam Kerr (69) grabbed the only goal of the game on a sunny afternoon in London.
Head coach Marc Skinner opted for just the one change as he brought back captain Katie Zelem from suspension in place of Vilde Boe Risa as his United side started very much on the front foot in an electric atmosphere.
The roof almost came off the stadium with 27 seconds on the clock when Leah Galton tapped home from United’s first attack but the celebrations were short lived when the goal was ruled out for offside.
It would not deter the Reds though, who were dominant in the early throws of the game. Their press strong and their ball retention excellent. Both Nikita Parris and Galton would see good chances come and go, though it was perhaps defender Millie Turner who came closest when her deflected shot almost crept beyond Berger and into the Blues’ net.
Former Red Devil Lauren James’ header would see Mary Earps come up trumps again on the big stage as she tipped her looping effort on the post with the sides heading towards first half injury time. Sadly for Skinner’s side, this wasn’t the last they would hear of Chelsea.
The introduction of forward Pernille Harder just before the hour mark would see the game flip on its head as spaces started to appear in the United back line. The Dane should have perhaps put Chelsea ahead with her first touch but her weak effort was gathered with ease by Earps.
Shortly afterwards, Harder would find herself into the clear again and this time there would be no mistake as she crossed for Wembley veteran Kerr - and the Australian does what she does best by blasting home from close range. Sophie Ingle should have put the game to bed 10 minutes when she fired over the bar after James once again managed to wriggle free.
Skinner had referred to his side as “the rebels” earlier in the week and so long as their rivals possess the quality of Harder on their bench, changing that narrative will continue to be his biggest challenge.
For over three years now, English women's football has been dominated by Emma Hayes's side and, while United have shown signs of overcoming the barrier of the top three, Chelsea continue to be a boulder they struggle to budge as the Blues keep the rebellious reds of Manchester at bay.
While their first half display was impressive, Skinner and his side will once again leave the field with one too many regrets having failed to overcome the acid test of Chelsea for the third time this season.
Man United: Earps, Batlle, Turner, Le Tissier, Blundell (Mannion 79), Zelem, Ladd (Thomas 90), Parris (Williams 60), Toone (Garcia 7, Galton, Russo.
Chelsea: Berger, Leupolz (Harder 57), James (Buchanan 87), Reiten, Perisset, Eriksson, Mjelde, Fleming (Ingle 57) , Kerr, Charles (Carter 73), Cuthbert