Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea: Lethal duo of Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr tear WSL leaders apart to win the FA Cup


It would be easy to talk about the emotion of this FA Cup final. Taking place on the 100-year anniversary of the ban on the women’s game, there were several poignant moments at Wembley.

But this sport has come too far for cliches. Of course it is important to recognise the past and those who have paved the way for today’s current stars. But what we should focus on most of all is the football, the brilliance of Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby and the success of Chelsea boss Emma Hayes.

Her side were beaten by Arsenal on the opening day of the Women’s Super League season but they were better in every department on Sunday. 

Fran Kirby and Emma Hayes celebrate as Chelsea overwhelmed Arsenal to win the FA Cup

The Gunners were distinctly second best having beaten Chelsea 3-2 in the WSL in September

The Gunners were distinctly second best having beaten Chelsea 3-2 in the WSL in September

Sam Kerr's two second-half strikes took the game away from Arsenal in a one-sided contest

Sam Kerr’s two second-half strikes took the game away from Arsenal in a one-sided contest

Kirby surged through to open the scoring at Wembley after Kerr's flick deflected into her path

Kirby surged through to open the scoring at Wembley after Kerr’s flick deflected into her path

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS

ARSENAL (4-3-3): Zinsberger 7; Maritz 6, Beattie 4 (Foord 69), Wubben-Moy 4 (Boye 87), Catley 5; Maanum 6 (Parris 80), Walti 5 (Iwabuchi 60), Little 6; Mead 6.5, McCabe 6, Miedema 5.

Subs not used: Williams, Patten, Nobbs, Schnaderbeck, Goldie.

Booked: Mead, McCabe, Parris

Goals: None

Manager: Jonas Eidevall 5

CHELSEA (3-5-2): Berger 6; Carter 7, Bright 7, Eriksson 7; Cuthbert 7, Ingle 6.5 (Nouwen 90+4), Leupolz 7 (Ji 86), Reiten 6.5 (Spence 87), Fleming 6.5; Kirby 8 (Harder 73), Kerr 9 (England 86).

Subs not used: Musovic, Charles, Andersson, Fox.

Booked: Cuthbert

Goals: Kirby 3, Kerr 57, 77

Manager: Emma Hayes 8

Referee: Helen Conley 6

The Gunners didn’t manage a shot on target and massively missed Leah Williamson in defence. Vivianne Miedema had one of her quietest games in an Arsenal shirt and Chelsea would have been out of sight by half-time had it not been for the efforts of Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger. 

This trophy secures the Blues a treble (quadruple if you include the Community Shield) for the 2020-2021 season, due to the final being delayed by Covid-19.

The only disappointment of the occasion was that the record attendance for a women’s FA Cup final was not broken. Over 45,000 tickets were issued by the FA but only 40,942 people showed up. 

This is an on-going battle for the governors of the women’s game and their ambitious aim to sell-out a final in the next three years still seems some way off. 

On Boxing Day 1920, Dick Kerr Ladies attracted a crowd of 53,000 for a charity game against St Helen’s. Women’s football is still paying the price for the FA’s 50-year ban, which was recognised before kick-off. 

The two captains from the first final back in 1971 brought out the trophy before kick-off and Elise Cook, who played for Scottish side Stewarton Thistle, was in tears. She was not the only one who felt the emotion of this day.

Kirby looked overcome after opening the scoring in the third minute. In November 2019, the England striker was diagnosed with pericarditis, a rare condition that is caused by fluid and inflammation of the sac that protects the heart. 

The illness left her barely able to walk and kept her out of the game for eight months and the 28-year-old came close to early retirement. How lucky we are that she is still playing.

The forward was able to put Chelsea ahead after some wayward Arsenal passing inside their own half. Frida Maanum could only divert the ball into the path of Kerr after intercepting Jessie Fleming’s pass. 

The striker’s attempted through ball then hit the Arsenal midfielder and fell kindly for Kirby, who kept her composure to fire into the bottom left corner past Zinsberger.  

Magdalena Eriksson had a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 - but headed wide from a corner

Magdalena Eriksson had a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 – but headed wide from a corner

Kirby had a couple of other chances in the first half as she was denied by Manuela Zinsberger

Kirby had a couple of other chances in the first half as she was denied by Manuela Zinsberger

Kerr outmuscled Lotte Wubben-Moy on the cusp of half-time - only to hit the woodwork

Kerr outmuscled Lotte Wubben-Moy on the cusp of half-time – only to hit the woodwork

Kerr should have doubled Chelsa’s lead three minutes later after she was played through by Kirby, but the striker’s shot was blocked by the legs of Zinsberger. 

The Arsenal goalkeeper was responsible for keeping the score at 1-0 in the first half with a string of impressive saves. Erin Cuthbert’s long ball down the right wing found Kerr, who cut the ball back to Kirby inside the box but Zinsberger was able to palm her powerful effort wide.

The goalkeeper was there again to deny Kirby a second mid-way through the half. The forward’s shot from the edge of the box was going into the bottom left corner before Zinsberger threw out a hand to tip the ball around the post.

Kerr’s last visit to Wembley was for the Community Shield against Manchester City last year and that afternoon she wasted several big chances to score. It looked for a while that her second appearance would go a similar way. 

After being denied by Zinsberger earlier in the game, she hit the bar 10 minutes before the break. The striker out-muscled Lotte Wubben-Moy to run through one on one with Zinsberger. Kerr’s chip beat the ‘keeper but hit the woodwork and bounced over. 

But finally her moment came early in the second half. Kirby played the ball down the left to Kerr, who cut inside Wubben-Moy and fired a low shot from the edge of the box which beat Zinsberger at her near post. It was an effort the ‘keeper should have saved but Kerr did not care as she punched the air in a mix of celebration and relief.

Arsenal's leading striker Vivianne Miedema had a frustrating afternoon at the national stadium

Arsenal’s leading striker Vivianne Miedema had a frustrating afternoon at the national stadium

Kerr fired through the legs of Lotte Wubben-Moy to finally open her account at Wembley

Kerr fired through the legs of Lotte Wubben-Moy to finally open her account at Wembley

And Kerr's sublime chip made it 3-0 as the Blues won their third FA Cup final since 2015

And Kerr’s sublime chip made it 3-0 as the Blues won their third FA Cup final since 2015

Chelsea host Arsenal in the league in February with Jonas Eidevall's side currently sitting top

Chelsea host Arsenal in the league in February with Jonas Eidevall’s side currently sitting top

Kirby again came close to a second when she danced through the Arsenal defence before curling a left-footed effort towards the top corner. Again, the woodwork saved the Gunners.

It could not save them when Kerr scored what was the best goal of the afternoon, however. After being played in by Melanie Leupolz, Kerr ran through on goal and cooly chipped the ball over Zinsberger and into the back of the net. The Australian’s Wembley curse is no more.

‘I think we deserved it, we played really well,’ Kerr said. ‘We have been playing really well the last few weeks, we kinda went in as underdogs so we had a point to prove. We’re buzzing.

‘It wouldn’t go in (in the first half) but we knew it was coming,’ Kerr said. ‘It could have been four or five nil in the first half but they defended well. We knew if we keep pushing at some point they would go in and they did.

‘I am paid to score goals but our defence was amazing, it was a team effort. I can’t wait to party!’ 

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