Laia Aleixandri’s strike ended Arsenal’s WFA Cup journey at Meadow Park on Sunday, securing Manchester City a place in the quarter finals with a 0-1 win.

A change in goal from Arsenal’s usual number one, Manu Zinsberger, was a shocking yet welcome decision for most Arsenal fans.

Sabrina D’Angelo put on a promising display in her place, but will now be out of Arsenal’s line-up for the next two months, alongside Lacasse and Fox, to play in the W Gold Cup.

It was a frustrating first half for both teams, Arsenal tried to open the scoring in the 15th minute with a shot from Foord, but her ball was calmly collected by Keating.

A controversy has broken out about Lotte Wubben-Moy’s elbow catching Bunny Shaw in the face after they both went for the ball in Arsenal’s box, but due to the lack of VAR, no red card or penalty was given by the referee, Stacey Pearson.

City went for goal again when Hemp attempted a left-footed shot at Arsenal’s goal, but she lacked the necessary contact and sent the ball over the net.

Her attempt just a minute later was swiftly blocked by McCabe and in the 41st minute another of her attempts was blocked by Williamson.

There was a minute of extra time, but neither side managed to produce anything from it.

After an exceptional cross from Cooney-Cross, Mead came close to a lead, but it went over the net and was ruled offside leaving the teams to go into half-time 0-0.

Second half

To kick off the second half, Shaw had an attempt from outside the box in the 49th minute but it was saved by D’Angelo, and Pelova quickly retaliated with a shot that landed just to the left of City’s goal.

Shaw tried twice to header the ball in, but her first attempt was saved and the second was kept out by a goal line clearance from Williamson.

After the City’s attacking threat grew, Jonas Eidevall decided to make two substitutions with Steph Catley replacing McCabe and Stina Blackstenius coming on for Russo.

Gareth Taylor also substitued off Shaw, who has been suffering from a calf strain, in the 62nd minute and replacing her with Mary Fowler.

Finally, Laia Aleixandri broke the deadlock in the 74th minute by poking the ball in from close range after a free kick, putting them ahead 0-1.

In the hopes of levelling the scores, Fox sent a low ball into the box for Arsenal but after a deflection off Greenwood, it span off course and knocked wide of the post.

”…incredible display of goalkeeping from Khiara Keating.”

Blackstenius also attempted to gain the equaliser with a header which was caught easily by Keating.

Both a header from Pelova and a shot from Arsenal’s captain, Kim Little, almost closed the gap, but Keating made another two exceptional saves.

Arsenal fans were hopeful when a corner kick from Mead looped into the goal in the final minutes of the match and a controversy broke out over whether Keating’s late save was over the line.

Ultimately, Pearson did not award the Gunners that sorely needed goal and their WFA Cup journey came to an end.

Overall, it was a closely fought match, with possession split almost evenly, but attacking hesitancy on Arsenal’s part and an incredible display of goalkeeping from Khiara Keating led to Arsenal suffering their first loss to Manchester City on home soil since 2021.

For Manchester City this means a continuation of their winning run, this being their tenth win in a row, and Gareth Taylor’s side will now face Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter-finals.


Featured image courtesy of Branden Hopkins via Unsplash. No changes were made to this image. License details found here

By Abby Rampling-Mott

Trainee multimedia journalist based in Preston. Abby is also a co-host on the LG Women's Football podcast.