Chelsea won the Women’s FA Cup by beating Manchester City 3-2 at Wembley, where Sam Kerr scored the winner in extra time to clinch a league and cup double for Emma Hayes’ side.
City looked the stronger of the two sides to start the cagey contest, played in front of a record-breaking Women’s FA Cup final crowd of 49,094.
But Chelsea seized every opportunity, Kerr nodding in a Millie Bright cross to open the scoring, Lauren Hemp levelling for the visitors just before the break.
Erin Cuthbert’s crossbar-rattling second-half strike looked to be the match-winner until a last-gasp effort from substitute Hayley Raso extended the afternoon.
While the Blues and Citizens had lifted all five of the previous FA Cups between them, this was the first time the sides met in a final.
And it was City who had the first opportunity, Hemp breaking down the left and picking out Caroline Weir, whose curled effort from ten yards out was off target.
Hemp took matters into her own hands moments later only to see her shot stopped by the outstretched left leg of a lunging Bright.
Chelsea worked their way into City’s half but couldn’t get a shot on target, Lucy Bronze’s persistence then paying off as she denied Guro Reiten any chance of breaking into the box for an attempt of her own.
And it was City who enjoyed more early chances as Chloe Kelly’s shot from the right was easily picked out of the air by
Ann-Katrin Berger, the first time either keeper was tested.
Chelsea showed their strength at the back as City continued to test the Blues, who regained possession and played Kerr in on goal as she fired past City keeper Ellie Roebuck before being called offside.
It still appeared to fire up the Barclays FA WSL champions, Millie Bright in full control as she received a pass from Jess Carter at the corner of the box, whipping a cross to the far post for Kerr to glance it over the head of a leaping Roebuck to break the deadlock on 33 minutes.
But it wasn’t long before Hemp, who had caused problems for Chelsea throughout the first half, swirled around her marker and there was nothing Berger could do about her curled effort into the right corner to ensure the sides were level at the break.
It wasn’t long before Roebuck was called into action, easily catching Reiten’s cross just after the resumption.
A sustained period of pressure at the other end soon tested Roebuck’s opposite number, City getting plenty of touches in but Berger able to block two close-range efforts in quick succession.
And while City continued to enjoy nearly 60% of possession and shots on target by the midway point it was the Blues who capitalised on chances, Bethany England flicking a pass to Cuthbert whose powerful strike caught the crossbar before bouncing into the roof of the net.
Both sides made late substitutions but it was Gareth Taylor’s that paid off, Raso’s fresh legs off the bench giving her the boost of speed she needed to beat Chelsea skipper Magda Eriksson to the ball and lob the leveller past Berger.
But nine minutes into added time Kerr picked up the ball in midfield and powered down the pitch, sending a low strike into the right corner that was heavily deflected off the unfortunate Alanna Kennedy.
Tension remained high as Weir found herself in space but was left to clutch her head in agony after skying City’s best chance for an equaliser, ensuring Chelsea walked away winners for the fourth time.
Cuthbert said: “What a performance from the girls. We saw the game go to 120 minutes yesterday, we knew it was going to be a tough slog for us.
“Especially when you lose a goal five minutes from time, it does take the wind out of your sails a little bit. You’re so close to the trophy and then it’s swept away from you.
“We had to regroup and dig deep at the start of extra time. We found a level that we’ve not found in ourselves before.”
To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com