Caroline Weir inspires Manchester City to League Cup final win over Chelsea | Women’s football

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Manchester City continued a remarkable turnaround in their season by coming from behind to secure their first silverware of the 2021-22 campaign.

Two goals from the Scotland midfielder Caroline Weir sandwiched Ellen White’s poached effort after Australia forward Sam Kerr had given Chelsea a first-half lead in a fiery encounter.

Weir had said before the match that “there’s no better way to keep momentum that than go and win a final” after a challenging start to the season and she took the game by the scruff of the neck to deliver victory for City and heap more pain on Chelsea fans in a week they will want to forget.

There is no love lost between Chelsea and City, with the two teams having met seven times in FA Cup or League Cup semi-finals and twice at the quarter-final stage. But they had, inexplicably, never met in a final.

In front of an overwhelmingly Chelsea crowd, with Plough Lane 5.5 miles from their own home ground of Kingsmeadow (bought from AFC Wimbledon prior to the team’s move to their new ground), Emma Hayes’s side struggled to prevent City dominating possession.

Chelsea arguably were the favourites going into the tie as back-to-back winners of the competition and having done the double over City in the league. However, in a 4-0 away win in Manchester in November the Scottish winger Erin Cuthbert had starred, staying glued to City’s most potent threat, Lauren Hemp, and limited her options.

Ellen White gives Manchester City the lead from close range in the second half
Ellen White gives Manchester City the lead from close range in the second half. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Chelsea were without the dogged Cuthbert due to injury this time. They were also missing their influential forward Fran Kirby, who scored twice and provided four assists in last season’s final, through illness and the Olympic gold medallist Jessie Fleming to Covid.

City were unlucky to not be ahead in the 26th minute as Georgia Stanway’s cross was met by the dynamic Hemp but she rattled the ball off the base of the post. The resulting clearance fell to full-back Demi Stokes on the edge of the area, her strike ricocheted off the high arm of Sophie Ingle but the referee, Lisa Benn, waved away the penalty appeals.

Hayes had insisted it would be “business as usual” on the pitch after “a long week for people at Chelsea” and, perhaps shaken alive by Hemp’s chance the cup holders started to stretch the City backline. Less than 10 minutes later they had the lead.

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Katie Zelem scored directly from a corner twice in the space of five minutes as Manchester United thrashed Leicester 4-0 in the Women’s Super League. United were already 2-0 up through first‑half goals from Martha Thomas and Alessia Russo when Zelem’s 60th-minute corner evaded everyone in the penalty area and nestled in the far corner. The 26-year-old, who also scored from a corner in the FA Cup last weekend, amazingly repeated the feat a few minutes later to set the seal on a comprehensive win. The victory lifts Marc Skinner’s side to third in the table, six points behind Arsenal, the leader, who take on the bottom side, Birmingham, today. 

In the day’s other game, Maya Le Tissier’s first-half goal against Aston Villa was enough for Brighton to secure a second successive win. PA Media 

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Guro Reiten’s cross from the left could only be pushed away by Ellie Roebuck as Stokes leant into her while going for the same ball. Kerr collected before turning and firing in low and into the net, racing away to throw herself into arms of the injured Cuthbert.

City are no strangers to adversity this season though, with injuries having crippled the first third of their campaign, condemning them to seven defeats in their first 14 games in all competitions. Since then, however, they have lost once in 12 matches – a 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in the league.

Unperturbed by their concession and the odds, City started the second half with the intent they had shown early in the first. Five minutes after the restart, they were level. Stanway’s square ball in was taken down by Weir who fired past Ann-Katrin Berger, taking a deflection off her outstretched foot on its way in.

With momentum swinging behind City, the England forward White would give them the lead for the first time, poking in the rebound after Berger parried Hemp’s effort.

Less than 10 minutes later they extended their lead, again through Weir, who came off the bench in back-to-back Manchester derbies to score prior to starting in the cup final. Stanway’s corner was headed down by Lucy Bronze, then came off Ingle, before falling to Weir who volleyed smartly into the top corner.

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Hayes rang the changes, throwing Lauren James, Beth England, Drew Spence and Alsu Abdullina into the fray but City were unfazed and always looked the more likely side to score next.

Having had his tenure questioned towards the end of last year the final whistle delivered Gareth Taylor his second trophy in charge and denied Hayes No 12. Chelsea must now regroup for the title push.

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