This afternoon brought one of the most exciting games of the season to Molineux Stadium, where fans saw Chelsea and Arsenal go head-to-head in the Conti Cup final.

The starting line-up saw only one change for Arsenal since their victory against Aston Villa, with Stina Blackstenius replacing Alessia Russo.

Russo was benched after reportedly missing two days of training due to illness, but was available as a substitute.

Chelsea had a much-changed side since their last game against Ajax, Emma Hayes making six changes to her team, with Niamh Charles wearing the captain’s armband.

This match broke the record for the highest attendance in a Conti Cup final with over 21,000 fans and it also marked Arsenal’s tenth time in the final.

First Half

Lauren James had an early shot at goal, after the Arsenal back-line allowed her to go unmarked, but Manu Zinsberger made a vital save to prevent the Blues taking the early lead.

Chelsea’s defence made a similar mistake with Lacasse not long after, but her ball went wide, both teams still in a deadlock.

In the 21st minute, the scoring appeared to have been opened by Mayra Ramirez, but after a VAR check it was decided that there was a hand-ball by Erin Cuthbert which ruled the goal out.

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While there were close calls from the likes of Lotte Wubben-Moy and Katie McCabe and four minutes of added time, the first half ended 0-0.

Second Half

At the start of the second half, Eidevall made his first substitution, taking off Leah Williamson for Laia Codina.

Not long after coming onto the pitch, Codina was caught by James’ studs in a bad foul that ended up in a booking for the English international.

In the 72nd minute Cloé Lacasse came off for Caitlin Foord and just four minutes later Hayes made her first substitute with Mayra Ramirez coming off for Guro Reiten.

Beth Mead was taken off for Steph Catley in the hopes of breaking open a very even game.

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There were seven minutes of added time and despite a yellow card for Cuthbert, who was now captaining her side, there were no breakthroughs.

In the sixth minute of extra time the stadium went silent as Frida Maanum collapsed and was taken off in a stretcher.

Not long after, it was announced that she was conscious and talking again but Russo was brought on in her place.

At 105 minutes the referee called full time, still with both teams 0-0 and so the game went to extra time.

Extra Time

In the first half of extra time there was an attempt by Russo which was saved and a substitution for Chelsea with Sjoeke Nüsken coming off for Catarina Macario but even with two minutes added time neither side broke the deadlock.

At half time Katie McCabe came off for Kyra Cooney-Cross and it was a consequence of her run that in the 16th minute Blackstenius found the ball at her feet.

Despite a clear chance presenting itself, the Swedish striker lost composure on the ball sending it over the crossbar and making it look as though the game was likely to go to penalties.

Both goalkeepers had held up well under a lot of pressure but in the 116th minute, Hannah Hampton was the one to let up.

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A driving run from Foord found the ball in the box and it was her assist that allowed Blackstenius, the Cup’s top goalscorer, to slip it past Cuthbert and Hampton.

In the 29th minute of extra time, James came off for Aggie Beever-Jones but to no effect as the game was settled by Blackstenius’s last minute strike which was also Arsenal’s 200th goal in the Cup.

Post-Match

This win marks Arsenal’s second year in a row winning the Conti Cup and sees them extend their record, now taking home the silverware for the seventh time.

The Gunners have quashed Chelsea’s hopes of going for quadruple titles this season, previously looking like strong contenders to win the Conti Cup, WSL, Champions League and the Women’s FA Cup.

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Alessia Russo told the BBC: “We know that winning trophies is in the club’s DNA and that’s what we want to do as players.

“We want to keep pushing the bar, pushing the standards and keep winning trophies.”


Featured image courtesy of Bex Walton via Flickr. 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.