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The 2020/21 Women’s FA Cup final – postponed from last season – took place a century to the day after the FA declared football to be “quite unsuitable for females”, said Molly Hudson in The Times. And how comprehensively did the skills on display at Wembley, admired by a crowd of nearly 41,000, make mockery of that foolish sentiment.
Last season Chelsea completed a domestic “triple”, when they also won the League title and the League Cup, with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Arsenal. But though Chelsea have dominated the domestic game in recent seasons, the Gunners have been making strides under their Swedish coach Jonas Eidevall, said Tom Garry in The Daily Telegraph. This season they are one point ahead of the Blues at the top of the Women’s Super League, having beaten them 3-2 in September. So not surprisingly, many had billed this contest as “too close to call”.
Yet in the event, Chelsea’s superiority was obvious, said Suzanne Wrack in The Guardian. Led by the formidable duo of the Australian Sam Kerr and English star Fran Kirby – a pairing referred to as “Kerrby” – they dominated the first half, and could have headed into the interval 4-0 ahead. As it was, only Kirby’s three-minute strike separated the two teams at the break.
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In the second half, Eidevall tried to mix up his tactics, bringing on several attacking players, but this merely “sowed confusion”. After doubling Chelsea’s lead with a neat strike, Kerr sealed victory 13 minutes from time with a sumptuous chip over Arsenal’s keeper, Manuela Zinsberger.
It was a moment of magic that lit up Wembley on a “wet, bitterly cold December afternoon”, said Louise Taylor in The Guardian. And it offered “life-affirming evidence of women’s football’s re-emergence” after the troubles of the pandemic. This was “an amazing day for women’s football”, a smiling Kirby declared after the match.
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