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Bronze header beats brave Birmingham
 Women's Football News 3 Oct 2016
 
Manchester City 1 (Bronze 104)
Birmingham City 0
att 4,214; at the Academy Stadium, Manchester

Manchester City completed the League and Cup 'double' and lifted the Continental Tyres Cup for the second time in three years, but only after managing to overcome stubborn resistance in extra time from Birmingham City in the Final. 
 
Only a Lucy Bronze header separated the sides on the day, due in the main to a superb performance from Blues goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger who pulled off a number of saves to keep the newly crowned Champions at bay.
 
It was Birmingham who had the first attempt on goal, a 25-yard effort from Kirsty Linnett which fizzed inches wide of the goal.
 
Man City came back and forced a corner, from which Isobel Christiansen had a shot charged down, before Birmingham finally got the ball away to safety. The Champions began to exert their authority on the game, Berger doing well to hold a Jill Scott cross after she had tricked her way past Kerys Harrop, then Jennifer Beattie unleashed a shot from the edge of the area which brought out a fine diving save from the Birmingham keeper.
 
Beattie was in soon in action at the other end with a well timed tackle to prevent Freda Ayisi from getting in on goal.
 
Berger came to her side's rescue again with another good save from Nikita Parris after the striker had been found in space in the area from Scott's pass. Bronze fired over from distance and a good ball down the left from Demi Stokes released Toni Duggan who outpaced Aoife Mannion and took the ball into the area but once again Berger pulled off a great stop to keep out her shot which looked destined for the far corner.
 
Manchester City continued to attack and press but, although enduring a few nervous moments, the Birmingham defence did not buckle and held the goalless scoreline going into half time.
 
It was Birmingham who again produced the first shot in the second half, Ayisi's attempt from outside the area drifting harmlessly wide, but Manchester City began to prompt again and it took a superb volleyed clearance at the far post from Marisa Ewers to avert the danger from a Bronze cross.
 
Birmingham were handed their best chance so far when Ayisi was fouled on the edge of the area but Linnett lifted the resulting free kick disappointingly over the bar.
 
Manchester City responded with a good move down the right which released the overlapping Bronze and she whipped in a dangerous low cross which just evaded Christiansen in front of goal and Ewers again did well at the far post to prevent Duggan from scoring.
 
On 73 minutes, it looked as though the breakthrough would finally come when Kosovare Asllani turned past Emily Westwood on the edge of the area but once again, the superb Berger was quick off her line to make a smothering save at her feet.
 
Birmingham then looked to have created the chance they wanted when Jess Carter's pass released Charlie Wellings who made a well timed run. She slid the ball inside to Ayisi who in turn found Melissa Lawley but they had taken too long and the chance was lost, Christiansen nipping in to win the ball and tidy up.
 
The Blues were enjoying their best spell of the game as it went into extra time and a scramble resulted in a corner, from which Manchester City broke away but again Birmingham resolutely snuffed out the danger before Duggan's shot was eventually saved by Berger, who moments before had raced around 40 yards from goal to prevent the England striker from breaking through.
 
Manchester City were quicker out of the blocks as the extra period began, Duggan lifting a shot just over on the turn, and Christiansen also clearing the bar with an effort from the edge of the area.
 
A minute before half time, Birmingham's resistance was finally broken as Duggan floated in a corner from the left. For once, Berger was not able to punch away and Scott's header on was guided in by Bronze to put her side ahead.
 
Birmingham were looking desperately tired now and two minutes into the second period, it was almost two as Daphne Corboz burst down the right and pulled it back for Tessel Middag who rifled a shot against the inside of the post from the edge of the area.
 
There was a scare at the other end though when Lawley floated a delightful cross into the area which Marie Hourihan could not fully clear under pressure from Wellings, the loose ball ran to Carter but Asllani reacted quickly to win it back. Birmingham protested that Carter had been barged over by the Swedish international but their penalty appeals were in vain.
 
This was to be the last scare for Manchester City and the result brought an end to a marvellous domestic season in which they carried off two trophies and were only beaten once during the campaign. Credit is also due to Birmingham who got their tactics spot on for the match, Westwood and Meaghan Sargeant played very well in defence and Carter had a fine match in midfield. 
 
Manchester City: Marie Hourihan, Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh, Jennifer Beattie, Steph Houghton, Nikita Parris (sub Kosovare Asllani 64mins), Jill Scott, Toni Duggan (sub Daphne Corboz 105mins), Jane Ross (sub Tessel Middag 83mins), Isobel Christiansen. Subs not used: Karen Bardsley.

Birmingham City: Ann-Katrin Berger, Meaghan Sargeant, Jess Carter, Aoife Mannion, Emily Westwood, Kerys Harrop. Freda Ayisi (sub Isabelle Linden 105mins), Marisa Ewers, Kirsty Linnett (sub Charlie Wellings 74mins), Melissa Lawley, Andrine Hegerberg (sub Chloe Peplow 90mins). Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Alex Windell, Abbey Leigh Stringer, Corina Schroder.


 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
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