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Manchester City won 4-2 on penalties
att: 2,424; at Sheffield United FC>
Manchester City won 4-2 on penalties
att: 2,424; at Sheffield United FC
Manchester City won the FA Women's Continental Cup for the third time after getting the better of Arsenal in a penalty shootout at Bramall Lane.
Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was the heroine for City with two saves during the shootout after the teams, who have monopolised this competition since it commenced in 2011, had battled out a largely disappointing goalless draw at Saturday lunchtime.
Arsenal went into the game having sprung a selection surprise, with star striker Vivianne Miedema being named among the substitutes and Beth Mead playing a lone role up front.
The first half was largely confined to the midfield areas with few opportunities for either side. Mead headed wide for Arsenal from Kim Little's cross whilst at the other end, City were mainly restricted to shots from distance until the last minute of the half, when they had a great opportunity to take the lead.
Caroline Weir's corner was headed goalwards by Steph Houghton and saved by Sari van Veenendaal, the rebound falling for Gemma Bonner but came quickly back at the defender who tried to prod the ball back into the net but could only divert her shot wide.
The game began to come to life in the second half and it was City who took the initiative and pressed for the opening goal. Nikita Parris went very close to breaking the deadlock on the hour mark with a back header from a Weir free kick which came back off the bar before being cleared.
Janni Arnth shot narrowly wide at the other end, whilst Parris fired over following a good run into the area. Weir was in lively form in midfield for City and, after latching onto a Janine Beckie pass, the Scottish international's shot brought out an excellent diving save from van Veenendaal. After Miedema had volleyed wide for the Gunners, Beckie went close in injury time, her left foot shot striking the angle of post and bar.
The game returned to being a much cagier affair during extra time and chances were far scarcer as a result, with both defences determined not to make a mistake. Parris went closest to finding a way through when she burst into the area but van Veenendaal made a good block to deny her, as she attempted to lift the ball over the advancing keeper.
Neither team could find a way through as the game drifted into penalties and after Georgia Stanway and Little were both successful from the spot, Lauren Hemp's kick was saved but Bardsley kept out Leah Williamson's shot to keep the shootout on parity. Claire Emslie converted for City, with Bardsley then saving from Danielle van de Donk to give City the advantage. Houghton found the net, with Dominique Bloodworth responding, leaving Beckie to step up for a kick that would win it for City and the Canadian striker duly slotted home to secure the first silverware of the season for her side.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Gemma Bonner, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh, Steph Houghton, Jennifer Beattie, Tessa Wullaert (sub Janine Beckie 65mins), Jill Scott, Nikita Parris (sub Lauren Hemp 105mins), Caroline Weir (sub Claire Emslie 119mins), Georgia Stanway. Subs not used: Ellie Roebuck, Pauline Bremer, Megan Campbell, Abbie McManus.
Arsenal: Sari van Veenendaal, Janni Arnth (sub Vivianne Miedema 69mins), Katrine Veje (sub Amelia Hazard 71mins), Dominique Bloodworth, Louise Quinn, Leah Williamson, Lisa Evans, Danielle van de Donk, Beth Mead, Kim Little, Katie McCabe. Subs not used: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Ava Kuyken, Ana Albuquerque.
Photo by Julian Barker
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