Chelsea are into the semi-finals of this season’s FA Women’s Continental League Cup after defeating Manchester City 4-2 after extra-time in their quarter-final tie at The Academy Stadium this evening.
The two sides played out a thrilling 2-2 draw in normal time before Guro Reiten and Sophie Ingle netted the decisive goals in extra-time for the visitors.
The conditions were far from ideal as the torrential downpours had already meant one Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixture was called off earlier today but the game went ahead nonetheless and the players braved the elements.
The two sides threatened to cancel each other out as neither was able to muster a shot on target in the opening 40 minutes. Sam Kerr came the closest when she was played in behind the City defence and tried to catch Karen Bardsley out at the nearcpost but could only find the side-netting.
The breakthrough did eventually come just before the interval. The home side failed to clear a Chelsea free-kick from deep and the ball fell kindly to Melanie Leupolz. The German international struck first time on the half-volley and despite the best efforts of Steph Houghton on the goal-line, Chelsea had the advantage.
Alan Mahon, stepping in for the isolating Gareth Taylor, would’ve been looking for a quick response after the break and that’s exactly what he got. Just six minutes after the restart, the two teams were level when Magdalena Eriksson dawdled on the ball in her own box and was dispossessed by Chloe Kelly. The England international forward took the shot on from a narrow angle and was able to beat Ann-Katrin Berger and restore parity in the tie.
The match looked to be heading into extra-time until Lauren Hemp stepped up. A corner was swung in by Kelly and Chelsea failed to clear. The ball fell to Hemp who swivelled and hammered the ball beyond a helpless Berger from close range.
That looked to be that, however, Niamh Charles had other ideas. In the last minute of normal time, the substitute gathered the ball on the edge of the City box and bent a delightful shot into the top corner to level the game once again.
The tie needed another 30 minutes to be decided and the current holders took full advantage of that added time. A low cross into the City box evaded everyone except for Reiten at the back stick and with Bardsley committed, the Norwegian was able to divert the ball into the unguarded net and give her side the lead once more. The South West Londoners then established a two-goal lead just before the break when Ingle let fly with an outrageous left-footed shot from 25 yards that nearly burst the net as it flew into Bardsley’s top corner.
It was an enthralling match with bags full of drama that certainly lived up to billing but that will be of no consolation to City as it finished 4-2. With Chelsea able to bounce back to going behind in the manner that they did, it’s hard to imagine any obstacle can get in there way from here and prevent them from reclaiming the trophy that they won last year for the first time.