Match Report

Parris at the double again to seal Final spot

ON FIRE: Nikita Parris has scored eight times in six games
FA Women's League Cup
FA Women's League Cup
Wed 6 Feb
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Two League Cup Finals await City in the last weekend of February, as Nick Cushing’s women’s team booked our place in the Continental Cup Final with a 2-0 victory at Chelsea.

The Blues will face Arsenal for the third time at the Final stage - and for second successive season - at Bramall Lane, the day before Pep Guardiola’s side face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley, in a potentially historic weekend for the Club.

It was a Nikita Parris double, which secured our spot in the Sheffield showpiece – her eighth goal in six games – as City produced a solid second half display to earn our fourth Conti Cup Final place – and second in successive seasons.

READ: When and where is the Conti Cup Final?

WATCH: Match highlights | City 3-0 Watford

What happened…

With the two sides having met seven times in cup competition in recent years – six times at the semi-final stage – the pair are familiar foes. Encounters are often closely-contested – won by the odd goal, as was the case in the Conti Cup semi tie last season, with City triumphing 1-0.

This one proved an equally cagey affair and in truth, City rode our luck at times, particularly in the first half. Thankfully, shot-stopper Karen Bardsley proved impenetrable and once the Blues’ attacking force kicked into gear, there would be only one winner.

City started the brighter of the two sides but struggled to unlock a well-organised Chelsea defence.

                        Parris at the double again to seal Final spot

It was the hosts who fashioned the game’s first chance, as Fran Kirby tried her luck from range but failed to really test Bardsley.

She forced the City and England ‘keeper into a more difficult save moments later, as Bardsley stretched to push away the far post effort. The rebound fell to Erin Cuthbert but the Scot blazed over from close range.

Bardsley then produced a superb save to thwart an acrobatic Cuthbert attempt, before Bethany England somehow headed Ali Riley’s delivery wide from a matter of yards.

City’s only chance of the opening period fell to Tessa Wullaert – a snapshot from the edge of the box – but it did little to trouble Hedvig Lindahl.

Encouraged by our defensive display and with Cushing’s teamtalk fresh in the minds, the visitors started the second half much improved and opened the scoring within five minutes.

It was a goal of Parris’ own making, as the forward stepped up to convert confidently from the penalty spot, having been upended by Deanna Cooper.

                        Parris at the double again to seal Final spot

Buoyed by the opener, City sought a second. Jill Scott, Caroline Weir and Parris all forced Lindahl into good stops, while Georgia Stanway was unfortunate to hit the side-netting.

At the other end, Chelsea pushed for a leveller. England went close with a curling effort but the hosts found Bardsley in top form.

As the home side pressed, gaps opened up in the defence and City capitalised with just under ten minutes remaining, as Parris was sent clear and coolly slotted into the far corner to seal the Blues’ progression.

How we lined up…

Goalkeeper Bardsley took her place between the sticks, shielded by a backline of Demi Stokes, Jen Beattie, captain Steph Houghton and Gemma Bonner. Keira Walsh and Scott protected the back four, behind Weir and Wullaert. Stanway and Parris led the line upfront.

What it means…

City will play Arsenal in the Continental Cup Final at Bramall Lane, Sheffield on Saturday 23 February (12:15pm).

What’s next…

City and Chelsea lock horns once again on Sunday 10 February in the FA Women’s Super League, as the two teams face off in Manchester in a double header of fixtures, with the men’s sides also going head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium that afternoon (4pm).

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