Emma Hayes’s Blues will try and defend their Continental Cup trophy for the third year running, as they advanced to the final. A blistering 13-minute first-half spell killed off their opponents who later were reduced to 10, as it ended Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United at Kingsmeadow.
Fresh from the Women’s FA Cup victory over Aston Villa, the defending holders made 3 changes. Zecira Musovic continued in goal, with Jess Carter, Aniek Nouwen and skipper Millie Bright at the back. Niamh Charles and Jonna Andersson started at wingback, with Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert in the middle of the park. Pernille Harder, Jessie Fleming and Guro Reiten completed the 3-4-3.
A cagey first 25 minutes saw neither side give any quarter, with both Musovic and Sophie Baggaley not tested particularly. However, the game exploded into life on the 26th minute. Guro Reiten’s searching ball in behind released Pernille Harder. The Dane was tracked by Aoife Mannion. She turned her inside and out, before tucking the ball home.Embed from Getty Images
Five minutes later, the Blues looked to have taken a firm grip on the match. Niamh Charles took advantage of a favourable drop-ball to drive to the byline. Her cutback to Reiten saw the Norwegian’s effort blocked as the ball spun up in the air. Jessie Fleming gambled and was rewarded as her downward header bounced into the roof of the net.Embed from Getty Images
Barely 60 seconds later, the ball was in the opposite net. Some clever interplay between Jackie Groenen and Vilda Boe Risa gave the Norwegian midfielder a chance from the angle. She drove an effort across goal, that Musovic could only parry into the net.
Chelsea restored the 2 goal lead in the 39th minute. A sumptuous team move eventually released Reiten and her low cross was swept home by Jess Carter. Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United started the second half on the front foot, and had several half chances. Zelem’s shot was blocked, before Galton’s cross-shot fell to Russo, but she stabbed wide.
Both sides turned to the bench to bring on impressive attacking replacements. Signe Bruun and Ivana Fuso replaced Groenen and Martha Thomas for the Red Devils. Emma Hayes meanwhile turned to Sam Kerr.
The Australian had only just returned from the Asia Cup, but her sharpness was evident. She connected with Harder’s over the top pass and drove towards the United goal. As she tried to round Baggaley, the English stopper clattered her. It was a deliberate foul and a red card. Reiten’s free kick was palmed away, before Harder was replaced by former United star Lauren James.
The score stayed Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United, and the Blues have a chance to defend their title again next month.
Full Time: Chelsea 3-1 Manchester UnitedEmbed from Getty Images
Final Thoughts: Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United
A big win for Chelsea means they now face the other Manchester side – Manchester City at Wimbledon’s Cherry Red Records stadium next month. Before that, the two sides face each other in a critical WSL match this weekend.