Arsenal win League Cup beating Chelsea 3-1 with bit to spare too…
By Paul Lagan at Selhurst Park
Arsenal 3 v Chelsea 1
Chelsea were humbled 3-1 by their north London rivals Arsenal at Selhurst Park despite taking an early lead.
As starts go, Chelsea’s was incredible. While the Arsenal men conceded after 11 seconds on Saturday, against Bournemouth, their women conceded after one minute 36 seconds.
The men recovered to win in sensational fashion with a third goal deep in the 97th minute.
That was the inspiration their women needed.
The Arsenal women showed that anything the men can do, they can do, if not better, then earlier.
While Sam Kerr headed the opener for the Blues on two minutes, Stina Blackstenius, a Kim Little penalty and a 45th minute header by Rafaelle Souza saw the north Londoners overwhelm their west London rivals to take a 3-1 first half lead.
It was the building block to see out the second half, where the Blues’ substitutions finally got the formation needed to gain greater control of the ball, but they were not able to pierce the Arsenal net again.
Head coach Jonas Eidevall outthought his opposite number Emma Hayes and deservedly lifted the League Cup.
A brilliant left-footed byline cross by Guro Reiten was met perfectly on the head of Sam Kerr who bulleted the ball from close range into the back of the Arsenal net.
Arsenal responded as Arsenal does, they kept calm, and continued to pass te ball around, hoping to find a channel or two behind the Chelsea rearguard.
However they were also susceptible to the quick counter attack.
But on 15 minutes the north Londoners got a deserved equaliser.
Taking a quick free-kick the Reds pushed forward leaving Blackstenius the chance to snap the ball into the back of the net.
Arsenal’s dominance was rewarded on 23 minutes when Sophie Ingle needlessly upended Noelle Maritz in the penalty area. Up stepped Little who sent Ann-Katrin Berger the wrong way from the s[ot kick to put the Gooners 2-1 up.
Berger then thwarted Blackstenius again at her near post as Arsenal threatened to run away with the game.
A swift Kerr break was quickly closed down by Souza.
Arsenal thought they had a third on 34 minutes but Blackstenius was flagged offside as she tucked the ball under Berger’s body.
Kerr was unlucky not to repeat her goal on 38 minutes but the ball went wide.
Hayes, clearly not happy with the lack of control of the ball, brought in centre-back Kadeisha Buchanan, replacing midfielder Jelena Cankovic a minute later.
Disaster struck for Chelsea on the stroke of half time when Souza was unchallenged and nodded home a regulation corner after Berger mistimed her attack of the ball.
Hayes replaced Niamh Charles with German midfielder Melanie Charles at half-time.
A early effort from Erin Cuthbert inched wide of Zinsberger’s left post as the Blues sought a goal to reignite their tepid first half offering.
Leupolz was yellow-carded almost straight away for a challenge on Katie McCabe.
Eidevall brought on Victoria Pelova on 57 minutes.
And with her first touch 60 seconds later forced Berger into a save at her near post.
Hayes countered by bringing in Johanna Rytting Kaneryd for Ingle on 63 minutes.
Arsenal second sub saw Laura Wienroither come on for Maritz on 70 minutes.
While Chelsea’s changes saw them regain sufficient posession of the ball to affect a shift in momentum, Arsenal were cute enough to recognise it and buffer their defence.
Hayes then brought on Jessie Fleming in the hope of creating greater energy in their play. Off came skipper and centre-back Magda Eriksson.
It didn’t work and the Blues had to admit they were ambushed in the first half and not good enough in the second.
It was Chelsea’s second loss in a row by 3-1 in the Legue Cup following their defeat to Manchester City last season.
Teams: Arsenal, Zinsberger, Souza, Williamson, Catley, Little, Maanum, Walti, McCabe, Maritz, Foord, Blackstenius
Subs: Marckese, Wubben-Mooy, Beattie, Hurtig, Pelova, Moeller Kuhn, Wienroither
Chelsea, Berger, Bright, Ingle, James, Reiten, Perisset, Eriksson, Kerr, Charles, Cuthbert, Cankovic
Subs: Musovic, Carter, Leupolz, Fleming, Mjelde, Rytting Kaneryd, Buchanan, Abdullina
Referee Kirsty Dowie