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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan

Sensational Kerr brace and cracker by Kirby seal emphatic FA Cup final win over Arsenal

By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

Arsenal 0 v Chelsea 3


Sam Kerr produced a stunning display of finishing - two goals but it could have been five as Chelsea outclassed an Arsenal side that failed to recover from an early goal by Fran Kirby, that set the west Londoners on their way to a resounding 3-0 FA Cup final win at Wembley.

The audacity of the Australian’s second goal - a magnificent chipped effort from range sealed the victory and knocked whatever futile resistance the Gunners hoped they could muster.

Kirby broke the deadlock in the third minute. The WSL leaders had goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger to thank for thwarting Chelsea on numerous occasions in the first 45 minutes.

Then it became the Sam Kerr show as she notched her brace - she outpaced Lottle Wubben-Moy for the first before an a a daisy cutter past Zinsberger, then it was that goal, one of the best ever to grace the famous Wembley turf - an audacious chip after already sprinting 60 yards to race free.

Chelsea got off to the perfect start after just three minutes when Fran Kirby took full advantage of a mix-up at the back and pounced on the loose ball that bounced off Frida Maanum on the edge of the Gooners penalty area. Kirby was quickest to react - took one touch before planting the perfect, instinctive right-footer past the advancing Manuela Zinsberger.

Sam Kerr should have made it 2-0 four minutes later when she broke through. Bout her left-footer from close range was straight at the goalkeeper and the ball bounced clear off her.

Arsenal attempted to get a pothole in the game but holding possession and striking on the break. Vivienne Miedema had a long range effort blocked by Jess Carter on 11 minutes.

Kerr had another golden chance to score, or so she thought on 18 minutes, but Zinsberger parried away her side-footer. But the Australian striker was adjudged to have strayed offside when Kirby set her up.

Zinsberger was quickly turning into the player of the game as she then produced a brilliant save to thwart a Kirby blockbuster that zipped off the post for a corner instead of the second goal.

A quick break by the Blues again saw Kirby have a shot. This time an edge of the box curler - again Zinsberger was on hand to tip the ball away for a corner. The resultant kick saw Millie Bright head wide.

Quite what was protecting the Arsenal goal is unclear but when Kerr battled for the ball and raced clear on 35 minutes - she had only Zinsberger to beat. She did, but the ball smacked off the crossbar.

Arsenal’s tactic of sitting back whenever the Blues had the ball at h back worked admirably.

Unable to kick long rang-get, the ball inevitably fell to the Arsenal midfield or they picked up a stray pass or two.

But the also worked well on the left, giving Erin Cuthbert a stern workout. More often than not they got a corner rather than a shot on target.

Arsenal felt aggrieved they were not given a penalty on 40 minutes when the ball seems to slide over Cuthbert’s arm when she slide into tackle Beth Mead. But referee Helen Conley waved away the vocal appeals.

Arsenal finished the half the stronger, sensing the Blues were beginning to puff a little too hard.

There were no changes by either side at half-time.

But the north Londoners settled the quicker. While not creating gilt-edged chances, they worked hard to deprive Chelsea of the ball.

But the first effort fell to Kerr once again. She couldn’t get too much power or direction on her header, but it was excellent wing play by Cuthbert that set e chance up on 54 minutes.

But she more than made up for it twi mi utes later when she ran to the left hand side of the pitch to chase a ball. She outpaced Lottle Wubben-Moy.

The two hen pitched wits as Kerr arrowed towards goal, and Wubben-Moy chased to block.

But once close to goal, Kerr hit a daisy-cutter supreme that arrowed to the corner of the net with Zinsberger caught in two minds as to where the ball was going. She tried desperately to stretch her right leg to stop the ball but it had too much pace and nestled into the back of the Arsenal net to double the score for Chelsea.

There was a break in play as Chelsea medics had to deal with cramp in Berger and a knock that felled Kirby.

In that time Caitlin Foord came on for Arsenal in place of Jennifer Beattie, on 70 minutes.

Kirby came back on as did Berger but it was Kirby whose saw a classic run and shot almost make it number three. But her curling left-footer rattle the left upright and was cleared.

Emma Hayes made her first change on 74 minute Pernille Harder replaced Kirby.

With 12 minutes on the clock the cup was won - latching onto a long ball Kerr once gain outpaced any straggling Arsenal defender. She knew she was alone, she knew she had to attack the goal on her own and when she got within striking distance, she produced a quite magnificent chip over Zinsberger and the ball dropped into the empty net to send the Blue half of the 40,942 crowd into raptures.

Beth England, Drew Spence and Ji got a taste of the Wembley turf taste as Kerr, Leupolz and Reiten exited the field.

Aniek Nouwen took to the field deep in added time - Ingle came off.

Teams: Arsenal, Zinsberger, Wubben-Moy, Beattie, Cayley, Mead, Little, Miedema, Maanum, Maritz

Subs: Williams, Patten, Nobbs, Parris, Ford, Boye, Schnaderbeck, Iwabuchi, Goldie

Chelsea: Berger, Bright, Ingle, Carter, Leupolz, Reiten, Kirby, Eriksson, Fleming, Kerr, Cuthbert

Subs: Musovic, Nouwen, England, Ji, Charles, Harder, Spence, Andersson, Fox

Referee: Helen Conley


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