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Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd: Player ratings as Kerr strike settles Women’s FA Cup final

FROM WEMBLEY STADIUM – Chelsea beat Manchester United in a record-breaking Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley on Sunday afternoon, lifting the trophy for the third successive year in front of more than 77,000 people – a world record for a domestic women’s club game.

Sam Kerr scored the only goal of the final that had been dominated by United for around an hour. But the addition of a world class game-changer from the bench in the shape of Pernille Harder shifted the balance in Chelsea’s favour and they ran with it.

United made a lightning-fast start and a goal within the opening 30 seconds, the result of a suffocating high press, scored by Leah Galton was chalked off by the narrowest of offside margins. Moments later, Alessia Russo’s pressing again threatened to cause Chelsea problems, while Nikita Parris almost got in at goal and Ella Toone had a shot blocked.

Just when Chelsea were threatening to build some momentum of their own, United were able to pick them off and it turned into a chance for Parris, albeit straight at Ann-Katrin Berger. Marc Skinner’s team just had a bit more zip and bite in their play and, after another quick counter, only an outstretched Chelsea boot denied Russo a potential tap-in.

United’s clearest chance to break the deadlock came as a deep Katie Zelem free-kick wasn’t dealt with and Berger somehow managed to readjust her body in time to push Millie Turner’s deflected shot to safety. As the half progressed, Galton’s also eyes lit up at a near-post cross, but she shot with her left foot rather than attempt to wrap her right around the ball and it went high and wide.

Chelsea hadn’t posed much threat for nearly 40 minutes, but flexed their muscles when Lauren James got in front of Turner and had Mary Earps scrambling to turn a looping header onto the post. But that didn’t dampen United and Parris was incensed when referee Emily Heaslip signalled a free-kick, not a penalty, for a trip from Niamh Charles right on the line. VAR backed the on-field decision.

Emma Hayes’ side started the second half sharper and a few crosses started going in from the left as Guro Reiten stirred into some life. Yet with Galton having another United chance saved by Berger, the Chelsea boss didn’t wait long to turn to her bench when Harder and Sophie Ingle were put on.

Harder had a glorious chance to make an instant impact after a rare Maya Le Tissier mistake, but she only made a weak connection with the ball under pressure from the same player. The Dane was making huge difference for Chelsea, and when she beat an offside trap down the right, it needed a combination of Earps and Ona Batlle to suppress and clear the danger.

The next time she broke through on that side, the final ball to Kerr at the back post was the right one and the newly crowned 2022/23 FWA Footballer of the Year made no mistake from close-range.

It put pressure on United to start chasing the game and Chelsea continued to cause problems, particularly through Harder and Kerr. The latter got the better of Le Tissier on the left of the box and pulled it back to Ingle, who ended up blazing over instead of doubling the lead.

Skinner had put United into a 3-4-3, which pushed Batlle further forward. Her surge forward and cross into the box presented an opportunity to Russo, who didn’t make proper contact, and Rachel Williams, whose attempt was blocked by Eve Perisset.

Earps even went up for a corner at the death and Galton was somehow denied by Berger in a goalmouth scramble as both sides of Wembley held its collective breath. But Chelsea managed to see it through and will now be eyeing a third straight domestic double when the WSL campaign resumes for its dramatic conclusion in the coming days.

Chelsea player ratings (4-2-3-1)

GK: Ann-Katrin Berger – 8/10 – Made a number of saves, including a spectacular reflex stop to deny Turner a first half goal and a massive one right at the end.

RB: Eve Perisset – 7/10 – Had her work cut out marking Galton and the United winger got free a few times. But it wasn’t costly. Made an important late block to deny Williams.

CB: Maren Mjelde – 7/10 – An important toe denied one of many Unted chances in the first half.

CB: Magdalena Eriksson (c) – 6/10 – Looked shaky in the first half in particular, but this will be at least one more trophy as her Chelsea career winds down.

LB: Niamh Charles – 4/10 – Struggled defensively more than once and arguably fortunate not to conced a penalty in first half stoppage time.

CM: Erin Cuthbert – 6/10 – On the back foot for about an hour when United were in the ascendancy and not able to get control of things until Chelsea found their lead.

CM: Melanie Leupolz – 5/10 – Never really established a foothold in the game.

RM: Lauren James – 7/10 – Denied by a top Earps save in Chelsea’s first real chance of the game. Asked questions of United and also made sure she tracked back.

AM: Jessie Fleming – 5/10 – Sacrificed for the more dynamic and dangerous Harder not long after half-time.

LM: Guro Reiten – 5/10 – A quiet game her usual standards because she was largely marked out of it.

ST: Sam Kerr – 7/10 – Starved of meaningful service for an hour and then popped with a crucial goal like she has done so often in Chelsea colours.


SUB: Pernille Harder (57′ for Fleming) – 9/10 – Changed the game completely and was the reason that Chelsea won.

SUB: Sophie Ingle (57′ for Leupolz) – 7/10

SUB: Jess Carter (72′ for Charles) – 6/10

SUB: Kadeisha Buchanan (88′ for James) – N/A


Emma Hayes – 8/10 – Her team weren’t at the races in the first half, but she didn’t waste time making use of the bench and the introduction of Harder was defining.

Man Utd player ratings (4-2-3-1)

GK: Mary Earps – 7/10 – Hadn’t been tested until pushing James’ header onto the post near the end of the first half. Stood little chance as Chelsea took the lead.

RB: Ona Batlle – 7/10 – Had to work hard to keep a lid on Reiten. She managed it, but that also took away from her attackng game.

CB: Maya Le Tissier – 5/10 – Made up for a rare mistake by doing just enough to put Harder off in a great position to put Chelsea ahead. Caught out a couple of times.

CB: Millie Turner – 6/10 – Made several good blocks and clearances and could even have scored once of her own. But it was hard having to run back towards her own goal in the final half hour.

LB: Hananh Blundell – 6/10 – Had a real battle with James down that flank, but ended up being overloaded when Harder consistently pulled to Chelsea’s right too.

CM: Katie Zelem (c) – 7/10 – Was controlling the game in the first half in her deep-lying play-maker role. Set-piece delivery was a threat as usual.

CM: Hayley Ladd – 6/10 – Stopped Chelsea from getting a foothold by breking up play, but her influence waned once the Blues started bypassing the press to go wide.

RM: Nikita Parris – 7/10 – Pace and clever movement made her a threat.

AM: Ella Toone – 6/10 – Found space between the lines of Chelsea’s midfield and defence to be a menace. But her impact had started to fade by the time Kerr scored.

LM: Leah Galton – 7/10 – Had the ball in the net within 30 seconds but it was ruled out and missed a glorious first half chance, but was a danger getting into the box.

ST: Alessia Russo – 7/10 – Worked hard pressing from the front from the first whistle and made life uncomfortable for the Chelsea defence.


SUB: Rachel Williams (61′ for Parris) – 6/10

SUB: Lucia Garica (79′ for Blundell) – 6/10

SUB: Aoife Mannion (79′ for Ella Toone) – 6/10

SUB: Martha Thomas (90+1′ for Ladd) – N/A


Marc Skinner – 7/10 – The first half tactics worked without United making the most of their chances. Went to 3-4-3 in the final stages to try and rescue the final.

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