Man Utd hold on to beat Chelsea and reach Wembley

Mon, Apr 15, 2024
By editor


MANCHESTER United beat Women’s FA Cup holders Chelsea in a thrilling semi-final to set up a Wembley final against Tottenham on 12 May.

The result ended Chelsea’s hopes of winning a treble in Emma Hayes’ last campaign as manager before she becomes head coach of the United States women’s team in the summer.

United, who lost 1-0 to the Blues in last year’s final, scored inside the opening 60 seconds at Leigh Sports Village.

Chelsea right-back Eve Perisset made an error that allowed Leah Galton to race free down the left and her cross was headed in at the far post by Lucia Garcia.

The hosts doubled their lead in the 23rd minute as England midfielder Ella Toone showed great skill to avoid a challenge on the left touchline and swing in a cross, which was met by Rachel Williams’ powerful header.

England forward Lauren James gave Chelsea a lifeline in the fourth minute of first-half injury time, firing powerfully past her Lionesses team-mate Mary Earps.

Chelsea pushed for an equaliser, only for Earps to make an excellent save to keep out James’ looping header and also deny Melanie Leupolz a goal on her 30th birthday.

Catarina Macario’s inswinging corner also bounced off the crossbar as the hosts came under severe pressure but, despite the visitors dominating the second half, United held on for an excellent win to earn a return to Wembley.

Another trophy slips away from Chelsea

Sunday’s second semi-final was a repeat of last year’s final in which Chelsea’s Sam Kerr scored the only goal to beat United in front of 77,390 spectators at Wembley.

The outcome means Chelsea, who at one stage were eyeing a quadruple, could still end this campaign empty-handed.

They lost after extra time to Arsenal in the League Cup final a fortnight ago to end hopes of a trophy clean sweep, and now another chance of winning silverware has disappeared.

The Blues have won this competition five times, including the past three years in a row, and will feel they should have reached their eighth final in 13 seasons.

Chelsea dominated the second half, with the match statistics ending heavily in their favour. They had 70% of possession, 26 shots to United’s five, and eight shots on target to two by their opponents.

The Blues also had nine corners, compared to none from the hosts and were left aggrieved at not being awarded a penalty in two separate incidents, once when the ball appeared to hit Katie Zelem’s hand and another when Niamh Charles seemed to be fouled by Williams.

But an inspired performance from Earps kept Chelsea from scoring an equaliser that would have taken the game to extra time. Aggie Beever-Jones hit the side netting in the sixth of eight added minutes at the end as Chelsea could not find a second.

The Blues could still secure a double as they are three points behind Manchester City in the Women’s Super League, but have a game in hand, and they take on Barcelona in a two-leg Champions League semi-final later this month.

United can salvage glory from tough season

Lucia Garcia scores for Manchester United
Lucia Garcia scored inside the opening minute of the match for Manchester United

It has been a tough season for United after they were runners-up to Chelsea in both the WSL and FA Cup last term.

An early exit from the Champions League against Paris St-Germain ended European prospects, and hopes of winning the WSL also faded.

United sit fourth in the WSL, six points behind third-placed Arsenal – who have played one fewer game and occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot.

But this cup win gives Marc Skinner’s side a chance to salvage something special from their campaign.

They will be confident of claiming the team’s first major trophy in the May final as they convincingly won 4-0 away against Tottenham in December.

Next up for United is a rehearsal for the final as they entertain Spurs in the WSL at Leigh Sports Village next Sunday.


15th April, 2024.