Sam Kerr continues her love affair with Wembley as Chelsea deliver again when it matters to win Women’s FA Cup
If precious little separates Chelsea and Manchester United in a footballing sense these days, what the Blues can still call on is their enviable track record of getting it right in the moments that matter most.
Chelsea trail United by a single point in the WSL with a game in hand. As the two sides fighting it out for the title went head-to-head in the Women’s FA Cup Final, both teams knew lifting the trophy could provide the perfect advantage ahead of the run-in.
Yet for so long this Wembley final was flat, hesitant and uninspiring. The goal United scored after 19 seconds that was disallowed because of Ella Toone’s marginal offside was not the catalyst that made this the stonking cup final many hoped and expected it would be.
Chelsea looked leggy and lethargic, perhaps a sign of their physically tiring and emotionally draining European adventure, as well as their runs to the final of the Conti Cup and this, the FA Cup. For so long it looked like an exhausting season was catching up with them.
No wonder the sections of their support all around the national stadium fell silent for extended periods.
United, it seemed, had no such struggles - just the inability to convert. Marc Skinner’s side came close through Leah Galton, Millie Turner and Alessia Russo, and were eventually to rue those misses. When Pernille Harder entered the fray midway through the second half, she changed the pendulum of the tie in Chelsea’s favour.
She ran goal-side from Guro Reiten’s smart pass, and there to gobble up her well-placed delivery was Sam Kerr, who simply hadn’t got into the game until that moment.
“I’ve never played at Wembley and not won a trophy”, she boasted this week. Kerr shrieked with joy, backflipped for good measure, and was celebrating scoring in the third successive FA Cup Final.
Soon enough, Kerr was being announced as the player of the match on the stadium loudspeaker, and then lifting the trophy with her team-mates.
Chelsea had won their third FA Cup in as many years, their 13th major honour under Hayes.
United’s time will no doubt come - what huge leaps they have made this season - but they are still yet to win one.
“Winning is a core part of Chelsea”, Erin Cuthbert said ahead of this final. To decry her claim as biased would be to underestimate the unending conveyor belt of silverware Emma Hayes has assembled.