Chelsea saw off Arsenal in a dominant display in the delayed final to last season’s FA Cup to win their first domestic treble.
Emma Hayes’ side, who also won the Women’s Super League title and League Cup last season, were deserved winners in front of 40,942 fans at Wembley on the 50th anniversary of the competition.
England international Fran Kirby put down an early marker, capitalising on a mistake at the back to net within three minutes, and Sam Kerr scored a brace in the second half to seal Chelsea’s victory.
Chelsea were utterly dominant – Sam Kerr and Kirby both hit the woodwork on three occasions, while Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger made numerous saves, particularly in the first half.
The Blues were frustrated not to be further ahead at the break but they made sure of victory shortly afterwards when Kerr teased defender Lotte Wubben-Moy before sliding it into the bottom corner in the 57th minute.
The Australian international, who had lifted it on to the crossbar in the first half, then made it 3-0 with an audacious chip and celebrated just as coolly, flapping her hand to signal how hot it was before sticking her tongue out playfully to the crowd.
Arsenal – the record 14-time winners of the FA Cup – were second-best throughout and despite a slight improvement in the second half, produced a performance which was a far cry from their domestic form this season.
The victory was Chelsea’s third in an FA Cup final and all three of their titles have come under Hayes’ guidance.
Chelsea’s Kerr too hot to handle
Chelsea’s defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates in their opening WSL game of the season remains their only loss and they were clearly keen to make amends at Wembley.
From the first minute they pressed with intensity and Kerr’s runs in behind immediately caused problems for Arsenal’s back four.
Kirby silenced the Arsenal fans in the crowd within three minutes when she pounced on a mix-up and raced through on goal to fire in the opener.
She ran to the corner with her arms outstretched, sending Chelsea fans into a frenzy, and Arsenal never really recovered.
By the time Arsenal won their first corner in the 15th minute, Kerr had been denied in a one-on-one and a last-ditch interception from Jennifer Beattie had prevented Kirby from sliding in a second.
Zinsberger’s heroics kept Arsenal within reach at the break despite Kerr and Kirby both hitting the woodwork but Chelsea came out firing again in the second half, with Kerr eventually getting her reward.
Her second goal was stunning – even Kerr herself thought so judging by her celebration – and she was deservedly given a standing ovation when substituted late-on.
With the two sides going head-to-head for this season’s WSL title as well, Chelsea’s dominant victory was a humbling reminder to Arsenal of what it will take to steal the crown from them.
Stunned Arsenal comfortably beaten
It was the worst possible start for Arsenal.
Kirby’s early goal stunned Wembley and the Arsenal players, who gave the ball away on countless occasions in the first half.
The defence was run ragged by Kerr, Kirby and Erin Cuthbert in particular and, were it not for several big saves from Zinsberger, Arsenal could have been 5-0 down at half-time.
Goalkeeper Zinsberger could not hide her frustrations – smacking the post in anger and screaming at her team-mates after tipping Kirby’s effort on to the post following a cut-back from Kerr.
And manager Jonas Eidevall was agitated on the touchline, often pacing from side-to-side and speaking frantically with his coaching staff. At one point he even held up notes to his attacking players and applauded them for responding with a successful high-press.
The absence of Leah Williamson at the back was evident and while in-form forward Beth Mead dazzled the crowd in bursts, she could not carry her team over the line.
In the end, Arsenal were lucky to go in at the break only one goal down but it felt like it would be only a matter of time before Chelsea began putting their chances away.
Kerr did just that, wounding Arsenal after the break and the Gunners never responded. The league leaders will have to pick themselves up quickly as there is a WSL title to be won, with Chelsea once again standing in their way.
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- 3Wubben-MoySubstituted forBoye Sørensenat 87′minutes
- 5BeattieSubstituted forFoordat 70′minutes
- 13WältiSubstituted forIwabuchiat 61′minutes
- 12MaanumSubstituted forParrisat 80′minutesBooked at 81mins
- 9MeadBooked at 7mins
- 15McCabeBooked at 65mins
- 20Boye Sørensen
- 22CuthbertBooked at 44mins
- 5IngleSubstituted forNouwenat 90+4′minutes
- 8LeupolzSubstituted forJiat 86′minutes
- 11ReitenSubstituted forSpenceat 87′minutes
- 20KerrSubstituted forEnglandat 86′minutes
- 14KirbySubstituted forHarderat 74′minutes
- Helen Conley
Match ends, Arsenal Women 0, Chelsea Women 3.
Second Half ends, Arsenal Women 0, Chelsea Women 3.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Aniek Nouwen replaces Sophie Ingle.
Corner, Arsenal Women. Conceded by Jessica Carter.
Foul by Katie McCabe (Arsenal Women).
Drew Spence (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Arsenal Women. Simone Boye Sørensen replaces Lotte Wubben-Moy.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Drew Spence replaces Guro Reiten.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Ji So-Yun replaces Melanie Leupolz.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Bethany England replaces Sam Kerr.
Attempt missed. Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal Women) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Katie McCabe with a cross.
Offside, Chelsea Women. Sophie Ingle tries a through ball, but Sam Kerr is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Jessie Fleming (Chelsea Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Pernille Harder with a cross.
Nikita Parris (Arsenal Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Nikita Parris (Arsenal Women).
Guro Reiten (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Arsenal Women. Nikita Parris replaces Frida Maanum.
Attempt blocked. Katie McCabe (Arsenal Women) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Arsenal Women. Conceded by Ann-Katrin Berger.
Attempt blocked. Beth Mead (Arsenal Women) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kim Little.