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City win third Continental Cup on penalties

Beckie scores decisive spot kick and Bardsley praised for heroics

Arsenal v Manchester City Women - FA Women’s Continental League Cup Final Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Man City Women gained their first trophy of 2019 after securing a 4-2 win on penalties over Arsenal Women at Bramall Lane.

Cushing’s side held the Gunners for ninety minutes and beyond, resulting in a penalty shootout that the Blues won, Janine Beckie scoring the decisive spot kick and Karen Bardsley hailed as a legend by her teammates after she saved Leah Williamson and Danielle van de Donk’s efforts.

City started on the front foot, Gemma Bonner getting her head to Sari van Veenendaal’s goal kick with Kim Little getting a boot to the ball, losing out to international teammate Caroline Weir. The attacking midfielder played in Keira Walsh, the twenty one year old finding Demi Stokes but her cross went behind van Veenendaal’s goal.

An Arsenal free kick taken by Little was sent straight at Karen Bardsley, captain Steph Houghton sending the ball long however Demi couldn’t get there and it went out.

Weir’s cross was put behind for a corner by Little, Caroline stepping up and swinging the ball into the area, Houghton getting a head to it but it was aimed out of the box before Danish defender Janni Arnth cleared. Pressure on Weir from Domonique Bloodworth saw the Scot play it wide to Stokes, Jen Beattie getting the ball out from the back to Walsh but the midfielder lost out to Arsenal’s number 10. Little played it into the area and Beth Mead got her foot to the ball however Bardsley was equal to it and collected.

The Gunners built from the back with Williamson playing in Arnth, Lisa Evans sending a ball for Little’s run goal-wards with Katrine Veje picking it up on the left. Her cross found the head of Williamson and then Katie McCabe sent an effort over the bar.

A corner for the opposition was taken by Mead, the forward playing it short to McCabe before receiving it back and sending a cross into the area; Nikita Parris clearing. However less than a minute later Stokes missed Arnth’s long ball, Houghton getting back to cover Evans’s run with Mead arriving to send a shot over.

Arnth’s ball wide was collected by van de Donk, the Dutch international sending a cross that was put behind by Steph resulting in a corner, Mead sending a cross into the area with Arnth got her head to; her effort going behind. City broke from a throw in, Parris collecting the ball from Stokes and running around Little before she lost out to Williamson, Keira winning it back from Arnth and playing through Nikita. Demi played Caroline in wide and crossed a ball into the box, Williamson getting her head to it with Parris collecting the loose ball; turning and sending a shot behind.

Arsenal v Manchester City Women - FA Women’s Continental League Cup Final
Janine Beckie watches on as Leah Williamson clears the ball
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The Blues then found themselves defending their goal again, Lisa Evans sending a cross in with Caroline doing well to put her international teammates ball out for a corner, Beth Mead’s cross put out by one of her teammates for a goal kick.

Half an hour in, Kim Little brought down Steph’s ball and played through Mead, Weir getting back to cover and block the England forward’s shot. Caroline received some treatment and once back on the pitch, Mead took the following corner and the ball landed on Little’s head; Jill Scott clearing any danger. Cushing’s side had a good chance to go ahead when Bonner played through Georgia, Tessa Wullaert making the run down the wing to receive her pass before passing back to the forward. The two combined well, as Wullaert’s shot was received by the twenty year old who played through Caroline, her effort going agonisingly wide.

With just over five minutes to go, plus any added time, Stanway gave away a free kick and found herself in the referee Lucy Oliver’s book for her challenge on Little following a previous set piece. Irish defender Louise Quinn sent the ball forward, Keira bringing It down and playing it to Gemma; Little holding her up.

City had a spell of large spell of possession in the second of the three added minutes, Caroline’s cross blocked and put behind by Quinn, Weir sending in a cross to meet Houghton’s head with van Veenendaal saving the defender’s effort before Gemma poked the ball behind.

Five minutes into the second half the Gunners won a corner which Mead stepped up to take, playing it short to Little whose cross in was met by Beattie’s head; Nikita clearing.

A City free kick saw Jen pass out to Tessa and then receive the ball again, Wullaert making a run wide however Beattie went through Caroline, the twenty three year old finding Georgia with the forward’s shot deflected off Quinn. The resulting corner was taken by Weir and cleared out by Leah Williamson to Dominque Bloodworth, Jill winning back possession through a header as Tessa collected the loose ball. She played it across the pitch but Quinn intercepted, Mead clearing only for it to be brought down by Keira, the midfielder playing it back to Karen Bardsley; Stanway receiving her goal kick. The twenty year old played it down to Tessa, the Belgium making the overlapping run but the ball went too far and headed out.

Bloodworth went into the referee’s book, earning herself a yellow card after a foul on Nikita and City a free kick which Caroline took, Parris getting her head to it before she chipped the Arsenal keeper and her effort hit the bar. This caused a scramble in the box and van Veenendaal eventually claimed the ball as Stanway fouled Mead and Lucy Oliver sensibly called Houghton over to talk to City’s number 12 rather than sending her off.

Just past the hour mark, Weir stepped up take another free kick and although Sari van Veenendaal got a hand to it, referee Oliver and lineswoman Melissa Burgin awarded a goal kick much to the frustration of City players and fans.

Stanway dispossessed Katie McCabe on the wing and played through Caroline, the attacking midfielder going up against Quinn who put the ball out for an Arsenal throw. Substitute Janine Beckie received it from Katrine Veje’s throw, her knee deflecting the ball off Veje for a City throw in taken by Bonner. A cross from Gemma was missed by Parris, Arnth collecting but losing out to Weir as she played through Demi, the defender’s shot/cross straight at the keeper. City had yet another chance to go ahead as Stanway lost out to McCabe, Nikita collecting the ball down the line, Georgia collecting and playing through the forward but her effort went over the bar once again.

Arsenal v Manchester City Women - FA Women’s Continental League Cup Final
Georgia Stanway jumps to avoid Lisa Evans’s challenge
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

With around fifteen minutes to go Keira Walsh dispossessed substitute Vivianne Miedema, Georgia playing through Parris who effort from the edge of the box went wide.

A long ball over the top from Bonner was met by the head of Lisa Evans, Janine collecting the lose ball under pressure, Nikita going into the referee’s book before Weir stepped up to take the corner. Van Veenendaal came out to punch the cross away, the ball falling to Steph however her effort went high over the bar for an Arsenal goal kick.

The last few minutes of the half saw Jill arriving in the box but only to send a shot straight at the keeper, however she won the Blues a corner which Caroline took and was headed away by Evans, Houghton there to attempt the spectacular with a bicycle kick but Bloodworth got it away and Danielle van de Donk sent it long. Arsenal then forced City back to defend as they broke with the forward, Evans receiving it wide on the wing passing to Leah Williamson, the defender’s cross meeting the head of Miedema and clearing it out to van de Donk. Miedema then collected her Dutch teammate’s pass and sent a shot at Bardsley; the Blues keeper equal to it.

During the additional minutes, Weir got her head to the ball and played it wide to Janine Beckie, the Canadian making a run down the wing before sending a shot at the corner of the crossbar; McCabe clearing.

The threat of penalties loomed as the two teams entered extra time, Georgia Stanway fouling van de Donk on the wing and giving away a free kick, Beth Mead’s cross cleared by Gemma but sent back in by McCabe; Miedema got her head to it and Steph was there to clear any danger. Bonner sent a ball long and wide for Demi, Evans receiving it first but the defender won it back and played through Parris; the former Everton player shoot straight at the keeper.

City could have had their goal when Janine played through Stokes, the defender in Nikita whose header went over the bar.

Now in the second period of fifteen minutes, Gemma’s header on was collected by substitute Lauren Hemp, the youngster heading the ball goal-wards as van de Donk pushed the forward, her header collected by the keeper as the City fans appealed to the referee, but to no avail and Hemp got to her feet. Jill got her head to the ball and Caroline collected it, Janine played in by the midfielder, turning and shooting an effort from range over the bar.

With neither side having scored, both sets of travelling fans were subjected to penalties, Georgia Stanway stepping up first and firing the ball into the bottom left corner under van Veenendaal, Arsenal captain Kim Little also scoring her team’s first spot kick.

Youngster Lauren Hemp had her penalty saved as did defender Leah Williamson before Claire Emslie buried City’s third penalty into the bottom right, raising a big cheer from the fans.

Danielle van de Donk stepped up and Karen Bardsley saved the Dutch forward’s penalty, punching the post in celebration.

Captain Steph Houghton also successfully netted her penalty, followed by defender Domonique Bloodworth with fans working out if Janine Beckie scored, the Blues would have won their trophy back. Beckie stepped up and successfully buried the ball under van Veenendaal, running first to her teammates before heading back to Bardsley on the touchline, the team, substitutes and non-squad players joining them on the pitch.

Arsenal v Manchester City Women - FA Women’s Continental League Cup Final
Man City Women celebrate Karen Bardsley’s heroics
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Speaking after the game goalkeeper Karen Bardsley told “It’s amazing. I’m over the moon – so pleased”.

“This trophy has a particularly special place in my heart and the team’s. We won it in the first season as a team together, although we probably had no right to win it. We’ve always been fond of it. I’m really stoked. It was tough in the 90 minutes and extra time. We had loads of chances and we hit the woodwork”.

“Arsenal were defending for their lives and Sari van Veenendaal made some great saves. You’ve got to give them credit where it’s due”.

“Over the last few seasons, it’s been heart-breaking not to have brought trophies home so this is a really special step in the right direction. I wish we could have made it easy for ourselves but that gives you an opportunity to do something special and we took full advantage”.

“I’m really proud of the girls – they had to make sure their penalties went into the back of the net as well. I’m just happy to contribute. It feels really great”.

Speaking on their chances for the rest of the season: “It puts us in good stead to build momentum after the international break and make a bid for the league and hopefully, the FA Cup. We’re really happy. There’s nothing better than winning a trophy – regardless of what it is”.

Club football now pauses the for the international break as England head out to America for the She Believes Cup and both Scotland and Canada head out to Portugal for the Algarve Cup. Man City Women will be back in action against Reading away at Adams Park on March 13th.

Arsenal Women

Sari van Veenendaal, Katrine Veje (Amelia Hazard 71’), Janni Arnth (Vivianne Miedema 69’) Leah Williamson, Danielle van de Donk, Kim Little ©, Katie McCabe, Louise Quinn, Lisa Evans, Domonique Bloodworth and Beth Mead

Subs (not used): Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Ava Kuyken and Albuquerque

Bookings: Bloodworth 57’

Man City Women

Karen Bardsley, Demi Stokes, Gemma Bonner, Jen Beattie, Steph Houghton ©, Jill Scott, Georgia Stanway, Nikita Parris (Lauren Hemp 105’) Caroline Weir (Claire Emslie 118’), Keira Walsh and Tessa Wullaert (Janine Beckie 65’)

Subs (not used): Ellie Roebuck, Pauline Bremer, Megan Campbell and Abbie McManus

Bookings: Stanway 39’ and Parris 81’

POTM: Caroline Weir

Attendance: 2424

Referee: Lucy Oliver