Late extra-time goals from Georgia Stanway and Janine Beckie settled a terrific Women’s FA Cup final as Manchester City eventually overcame Everton at Wembley to lift the trophy for the third time.
Substitute Stanway latched on to Jess Park’s clever through ball and slotted in off the post, when a penalty shootout had been looming, and Beckie calmly netted an ever later third.
United States midfielder Sam Mewis had deservedly nodded City in front from Alex Greenwood’s corner shortly before half-time, but France’s Valerie Gauvin headed level from Izzy Christiansen’s second-half corner as Everton fought back.
Played without any fans at Wembley amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions, the contest was the closest-fought the women’s final has seen since the fixture was first staged at the home of English football in 2015, as last season’s delayed competition came to a dramatic conclusion.
Gareth Taylor’s City side could have settled it earlier in the game, as Scotland midfielder Caroline Weir struck the woodwork twice in the second half before England skipper Steph Houghton saw a header tipped on to the post in extra time.
That was one of a number of superb saves from Everton’s 22-year-old stopper Sandy MacIver, on a day when City’s 21-year-old England keeper Ellie Roebuck also impressed, adding to an entertaining spectacle.
The 50th Women’s Cup final had originally been scheduled for May but was delayed because of the pandemic and the cup resumed at the quarter-final stage in September, after the 2020-21 league season had already commenced.
Unbeaten in their first five games of that new Women’s Super League season, the Toffees arrived at Wembley in fine form, but it was still last season’s WSL runners-up City who were considered the pre-match favourites and they lived up to that tag with a strong opening 45 minutes.
But Everton, appearing in their first final since 2014 and trying to win their first cup since 2010, battled back strongly and the game was almost end-to-end at times in the final 20 minutes of normal time, before holders City edged clear in the latter stage of extra time to win the cup for the third time in four seasons.
‘Big three’ dominance continues
Sunday’s result continued City, Arsenal and Chelsea’s combined six-season-long dominance of the major domestic trophies in the English women’s game.
Not since Liverpool lifted the league title in 2014 has any club other than the modern-day ‘big three’ won the WSL, Women’s FA Cup or Continental League Cup.
City only turned professional in the build-up to the 2014 summer season but have won seven major honours since then, adding their third FA Cup to three League Cups and the 2016 league crown.
They were made to dig deep against a hard-working Everton side who will feel they could have taken the lead in the second half when France’s Gauvin glanced a header just wide.
However few could deny that City were worthy winners – they created the greater number of chances and twice went close in second-half stoppage time, with the game stretched.
Player of the Match – Sandy MacIver
On a day when both young English goalkeepers shined, Everton’s MacIver won the plaudits with a series of excellent saves, with arguably the best of the lot keeping out Houghton’s header.
Player of the match
Squad number1Player nameMacIver
Squad number19Player nameGauvin
Squad number8Player nameChristiansen
Squad number20Player nameFinnigan
Squad number14Player nameSørensen
Squad number3Player nameTurner
Squad number17Player nameGraham
Squad number22Player nameSevecke
Squad number16Player nameRaso
Squad number2Player nameWold
Squad number12Player nameEgurrola
Squad number30Player namePattinson
Squad number15Player namePike
Squad number10Player nameMagill
Squad number13Player nameStringer
Squad number7Player nameBoye-Hlorkah
Manchester City Women
Squad number10Player nameStanway
Squad number11Player nameBeckie
Squad number16Player namePark
Squad number22Player nameMewis
Squad number6Player nameHoughton
Squad number19Player nameWeir
Squad number27Player nameGreenwood
Squad number26Player nameRoebuck
Squad number9Player nameKelly
Squad number20Player nameBronze
Squad number3Player nameStokes
Squad number24Player nameWalsh
Squad number21Player nameLavelle
Squad number18Player nameWhite
- 22SeveckeSubstituted forPattinsonat 90′minutes
- 12EgurrolaSubstituted forStringerat 99′minutes
- 17GrahamSubstituted forPikeat 90+2′minutes
- 16RasoBooked at 25minsSubstituted forBoye-Hlorkahat 76′minutes
- 19GauvinSubstituted forMagillat 90′minutes
Man City Women
- 20BronzeBooked at 15mins
- 9KellySubstituted forBeckieat 119′minutes
- 21LavelleSubstituted forParkat 70′minutes
- 18WhiteSubstituted forStanwayat 63′minutesBooked at 81mins
Match ends, Everton Women 1, Manchester City Women 3.
Second Half Extra Time ends, Everton Women 1, Manchester City Women 3.
Goal! Everton Women 1, Manchester City Women 3. Janine Beckie (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Georgia Stanway.
Foul by Alex Greenwood (Manchester City Women).
Izzy Christiansen (Everton Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Manchester City Women. Janine Beckie replaces Chloe Kelly.
Samantha Mewis (Manchester City Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Molly Pike (Everton Women).
Attempt saved. Nicoline Sørensen (Everton Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Simone Magill.
Attempt blocked. Chloe Kelly (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Caroline Weir.
Alex Greenwood (Manchester City Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nicoline Sørensen (Everton Women).
Goal! Everton Women 1, Manchester City Women 2. Georgia Stanway (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jessica Park with a through ball.
Attempt blocked. Georgia Stanway (Manchester City Women) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Chloe Kelly.
Demi Stokes (Manchester City Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Molly Pike (Everton Women).
Hand ball by Georgia Stanway (Manchester City Women).
Stephanie Houghton (Manchester City Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Simone Magill (Everton Women).
Second Half Extra Time begins Everton Women 1, Manchester City Women 1.
-- to www.bbc.co.uk