The Blues’s Continental Cup reign is over as a second-half comeback ensured the trophy headed back up North. In the pouring rain in West London, a sloppy performance from Emma Hayes side ended in frustration as the Citizens took the plaudits and the cup, as it ended Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City.
After the hefty Women’s FA Cup win over Leicester City, Emma Hayes was forced into several late changes as both Fran Kirby and Jessie Fleming tested positive for COVID-19. The Blues lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. Ann-Katrin Berger continued in goal, with Jess Carter and Jonna Andersson at fullback. Aniek Nouwen partnered skipper Millie Bright in the centre. Sophie Ingle and Ji So-Yun occupied the engine room with Niamh Charles and Guro Reiten out wide. The imposing duo of Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder were upfront.
The Blues named a strong bench, including welcoming back captain Magda Eriksson and defender Maren Mjelde.Embed from Getty Images
The first forays of the game were tense as both sides tried to get a foothold. A number of unforced errors presented chances for both sides. Reiten and Harder both shot wide before City hit the woodwork. Georgia Stanway’s low cross was sidefooted against the upright by Lauren Hemp, before Ingle was lucky to avoid a handball call as she blocked Demi Stokes’ follow-up.
Chelsea pounced on this profligacy to take the lead. Guro Reiten’s teasing cross allowed Sam Kerr to put Ellie Roebuck under pressure. She fumbled her catch as far as the Australian who swivelled expertly and drove into the far corner.Embed from Getty Images
With Gareth Taylor’s side somewhat flustered, Chelsea tried to grab a second before half-time. However, some last ditch defending denied Pernille Harder initially, and on the stroke of half-time, she headed a chance over from another Reiten cross.
The three-peat was looking possible at the break.
The game changed dramatically in the opening minutes of the second half. A very heavy challenge on Demi Stokes sent Niamh Charles flying into the advertising hoardings. With Chelsea down to ten, and visibly distracted, City took advantage to level on the 59th minute. A low cross from Stanway came to Caroline Weir and the Scottish international struck from around 10 yards. Berger could not keep it out despite getting her leg to it.Embed from Getty Images
Charles returned to the action and moments later, her low effort was tipped away brilliant by Roebuck. Barely 60 seconds later, this save proved vital. City came forward on the 58th minute through Lauren Hemp. Her fairly innocuous effort was spilled by Berger and Ellen White was on hand to take advantage.Embed from Getty Images
City had full control from this point on and Chelsea continued to struggle with their movement. A deep corner was headed back across and although Sophie Ingle nodded away from danger, she only found Weir who volleyed a brilliant sidefoot into the corner corner on the 69th minute. The Blues made a number of changes to try and get back into the match, but the damage was done. It ended Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City and the Continental Cup would not be returning to KIngsmeadow.
Full Time: Chelsea 1-3 Manchester CityEmbed from Getty Images
Final Thoughts: Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City
Typical of a number of high-profile matches this season, Chelsea failed to take advantage when they were leading and then struggled to recover once pegged back. City were the much better side and deserved winners, with Weir putting in an imperious performance.
Still two trophies up for grabs, and WSL action returns this week with Chelsea visiting London rivals West Ham.