65 min City almost equalise straight away, but Shaw fresh-airs a shot on the turn from 10 yards!
Reiten squared the ball to England just inside the area. She laid it back to Cuthbert, who took a touch and rifled a spectacular drive that went into the net off the underside of the bar! Roebuck leapt to her right and was so close, but she couldn’t quite get there.
That’s a stunning goal – not just the power and precision but also the speed with which Cuthbert took the shot. One quick touch to control and then, almost in the same movement, bang.
Erin Cuthbert gives Chelsea the lead with a screamer!
63 min Reiten’s cross nicks off Bronze and flashes across the face of goal. And then…
61 min In the first half both teams looked desperate not to give away the first goal; now they look equally haunted by the prospect of conceding the third.
59 min Weir sprays an elegant pass down the left to Hemp, who beats Bright with ease but crosses too close to Ingle.
57 min Kerr’s cross is cleared bravely by Bronze, with Cuthbert lining up for an overhead kick.
54 min Bronze is booked for a foul on Harder.
51 min: Fine save from Berger! City have made a flying start to the second half, as they did the first. Kelly’s cross hits the head of Shaw, slightly ahead of the ball at the near post. City keep the ball alive, with Weir eventually teeing up Hemp for a first-time shot. Her fierce drive across goal is superbly saved by Berger and ricochets just wide of goal.
47 min Shaw finds Hemp, whose clips a dangerous ball that flashes across the six-yard box.
46 min Peep peep! Bunny Shaw gets the second half under way.
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Peep peep! It took a while to get going, but the last 15 minutes of the half were terrific. Sam Kerr put Chelsea ahead with a poacher’s goal; Lauren Hemp equalised with a bit of individual brilliance. More please!
45+2 min City again appeal unsuccessfully for a penalty, this time after Shaw goes over after a challenge from Nouwen. I’d like to see that again – it was a clumsy tackle from Nouwen, and at first glance I thought she tripped Shaw.
45+1 min Stanway has a couple of shots blocked in the space of five seconds. The second leads to a handball appeal against Carter that is turned down. It certainly hit Carter’s right arm, though it was close to her body.
45 min Three minutes of added time. This game has really come to life since Sam Kerr gave Chelsea the lead.
That’s a brilliant equaliser. Shaw turned Nouwen smartly on the halfway line, moved forward and played the ball left to Hemp. Carter’s challenge put Hemp off, forcing her to go a bit wide. But she retrieved the ball, cut back inside Bright and curled a superb right-footed shot into the far corner.
That is one of the reasons why Hemp is so lethal – she can now beat a defender on either side. I think she is, by a distance, the most exhilarating player in the WSL.
City have got more from Lauren Hemp!
40 min City need more from Lauren Hemp, who has been kept very quiet. In her defence, I’m not sure how much service she has had. The rest of the forward line, Bunny Shaw and Chloe Kelly, have also struggled to have much influence.
38 min Harder shoots wide from distance. This is a nervy spell for City.
36 min That was such good anticipation from Kerr, who got the wrong side of Bronze to head Bright’s cross into the net.
34 min Another chance for Chelsea! Roebuck is challenged by Kelly, with the ball ricocheting to Reiten 30 yards from goal. She lofts a first-time shot over the bar. That was a good chance with Roebuck out of her goal, though there was at least one City defender on the line.
A free-kick from the left was half cleared, with the ball recycled to Bright on the right. She seemed to overhit a booming cross that sailed over the leaping Roebuck and was headed in from a yard by Kerr. At first I thought it had gone straight in, hence the description of it as a freak goal, but the ruthless Kerr definitely got the last touch.
Chelsea take the lead with a freak goal!
30 min Alanna Kennedy is booked for an agricultural tackle on Pernille Harder.
29 min I don’t know what to say. It’s not a poor final by any means, it’s just low on entertainment because both teams are a) playing a little cautiously and b) defending extremely well.
27 min Kelly and Hemp have swapped wings.
26 min Kerr’s long through pass towards Reiten is well intercepted by Kennedy.
24 min Nothing much is happening. There’s a bit too much mutual respect, and both teams are playing with the handbrake on.
21 min It’s developing into a pretty cagey game, with both teams desperate not to concede the first goal.
18 min: Kerr has a goal disallowed for offside. It was a classy finish, as you’d expect, but she was a fair way offside.
16 min City are almost caught playing out from the back. Cuthbert intercepts Roebuck’s pass 30 yards from goal but can’t control it on the bounce.
14 min Stanway is a bit fortunate not to be booked for a poor challenge on Harder.
12 min Cuthbert’s back on. It’s pelting down at Wembley, by the way.
11 min Erin Cuthbert is down after a collision with Stokes. I think she’ll be fine, and the breather might do Chelsea some good.
9 min Kelly’s cross is headed away well by Carter, with Hemp waiting behind her. City have been the more relaxed, confident side so far.
7 min Chelsea are starting to feel their way into the game after that difficult start.
4 min: Just wide from Weir! City have made a blistering start. Stanway cleverly lost two players in midfield and found Hemp on the left of the area. She cut back inside Carter and had a right-foot shot blocked by the stretching Bright. The ball rebounded to Weir, whose fierce follow-up hit Bright and flew just wide. That was heroic defending from Millie Bright.
3 min Weir scored twice in City’s Continental Cup final win over Chelsea in March. That was a pretty decent chance, especially as it was on her left foot.
2 min: Chance for Weir! City could have taken the lead inside 100 seconds. Hemp ran at Carter – what a duel that will be – and hit a cross that deflected towards Weir in the area. She ran onto the ball but lashed it over with her usually precise left foot.
2 min Chelsea have started, as expected, in a 3-4-1-2 formation. Pernille Harder is being Sam Kerr and Beth England.
1 min Peeeeeeeep peeeeeeeeeeep! Chelsea’s Sophie Ingle gets the FA Cup final under way.
The players are on the field, being introduced to the various dignitaries. It’s almost time for the 52nd women’s FA Cup final.
Ten minutes to kick off!
Let’s have a reminder of the teams
Chelsea (possible 3-4-1-2) Berger; Bright, Nouwen, Eriksson; Carter, Cuthbert, Ingle, Reiten; Harder; England, Kerr.
Substitutes: Musovic, Ji, Kirby, Fleming, Mjelde, James, Charles, Spence, Andersson.
Manchester City (4-3-3) Roebuck; Bronze, Kennedy, Greenwood, Stokes; Stanway, Walsh, Weir; Kelly, Shaw, Hemp.
Substitutes: Keating, Coombs, Angeldahl, Raso, Park, Losada, White, Mace, Blakstad.
Referee Kirsty Dowle.
I knew doing simultaneous MBMs would catch up with me. As you were.
Two changes for Chelsea from the title-winning victory over Manchester United last Sunday. Aniek Nouwen and Beth England replace Niamh Charles and Jonna Andersson, which probably means Guro Reiten will play at wing-back.
One change for City, with Demi Stokes returning at left-back in place of Julie Blakstad.
There are some serious players on both benches, including Fran Kirby, Ji So-yun, Ellen White and Vicky Losada.
This is really good, and you are most welcome.
Early team news
Chelsea magician Fran Kirby, who has been unavailable since February due to extreme fatigue, is in their squad today. “She looked like she hadn’t even been away, she looked that good in training,” said Emma Hayes. “It was nice to see a smile on her face and she’s participated in everything. She’s been in training all week so I’m over the moon to be honest.”
City are without Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton and Esme Morgan, though Demi Stokes and Jess Park could be available.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley. It’s a mouthwatering prospect, and long overdue. These two teams have won the competition in each of the last five seasons, yet they’ve never played each other in the final. Not in those five years, not ever.
Both teams have a double in sight. For Chelsea it would the Double, the league and FA Cup, for the third time in five seasons. City want to add the FA Cup to the Continental Cup that they won so impressively in March. They were 1-0 down at half-time before blowing Chelsea away with three goals in 20 minutes.
The teams have already met in the FA Cup this season, sort of. In October, Chelsea hammered City 3-0 in the semi-final of last season’s competition, a game delayed because of Covid. City were at a low ebb then, ravaged by injury and searching desperately for any kind of optimism. They recovered admirably, and in 2022 have won 19 games out of 21 in all competitions.
In fact, both sides have lost only one game since the turn of the year – to each other. Two great teams in great form in front of a record crowd for a women’s FA Cup final; this, surely, can’t fail to be good.
Kick off 2.30pm.