In a battling cup encounter in the capital, Laia Aleixandri scored the only goal of the game with shy of 15 minutes remaining and extra-time looming.
It represents our first win away at Arsenal in three attempts and books our place in the last-eight of the competition we’ve won three times.
With the plethora of quality within the ranks of both sides perhaps it was a surprise to see chances at a premium in the early exchanges with the teams cancelling each other out.
Only one goal had separated the Barclays Women’s Super League sides in the previous three meetings in all competitions and the early patterns of play suggested the margins would be tight once again.
But in a flash, the electric pace of City’s attack was on show when Lauren Hemp drove down the right and saw her drilled cross just evade Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw and head into the grateful hands of Sabrina D’Angelo.
On our previous visit to the Londoner’s home, Khiara Keating saved a penalty in a narrow 2-1 league defeat and she was called into action soon after when Caitlin Foord found space on the edge of the area before her fierce effort was held well by our keeper.
The visitors possessed a mean defensive record heading into the tie having conceded only 11 goals in 19 matches in all competitions.
And our meticulous defensive organisation continually thwarted Arsenal’s attacks, catching the hosts’ attackers offside on a number of occasions.
And it almost paid dividends when the former drove to the touchline and saw her cross met by Bunny - before heroic defending blocked the goalbound effort into D’Angelo’s gloves.
Following a goalless first 45, the two sides wasted little time in trying to find the game’s first goal after the interval when Bunny drilled a strike into D’Angelo’s palms before Victoria Pelova curled just wide for the Gunners moments later.
Although Arsenal were one place and three points behind City in the WSL table ahead of the cup clash, that meant little with the hosts pushing for an opener which almost arrived inside 60 minutes when Lotte Wubben-Moy rose highest at a corner and saw her looping header strike the bar.
Set pieces were proving the best source of clear-cut chances and the visitors came agonisingly close twice in quick succession from corners when Bunny saw her first header clawed away by D’Angelo before the next was hooked off the line.
However, we made the next one count when a teasing ball deep into the box from a free-kick caused panic before the ball ricocheted and found the feet of Laia Aleixandri who poked home.
It sparked scenes of ecstasy among those of a sky blue persuasion inside the ground and represented the only goal thanks to a superb save by Keating deep into additional time as we progressed in the FA Cup.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: LAIA ALEixandri
A colossal display at both ends of the pitch, Laia Aleixandri‘s phenomenal season continued in the capital.
Alongside Alex Greenwood, she kept the Arsenal frontline quiet throughout and provided the goal we craved to secure our place in the quarter-finals.
HOW WE LINED UP
Arsenal XI: D’Angelo, Fox, Wubben-Moy, Williamson (C) (Codina 77’), Mead, Maanum (Little 83’), McCabe (Catley 66’), Foord, Pelova, Russo (Blackstenius 66’), Cooney-Cross (Walti 77’).
Unused substitutes: Zinsberger, Lacasse, Williams.
City XI: Keating, Casparij, Aleixandri, Greenwood (C), Ouahabi, Hasegawa (Kennedy 90’+3’), Park (Angeldahl 86’), Coombs, Kelly, Shaw (Fowler 67’), Hemp.
Unused substitutes: MacIver, Stokes, Morgan, Mace.
WHAT IT MEANS
Victory in the capital means we’ve secured a place in the quarter-finals of the Adobe Women’s FA Cup.
The draw for the last-eight takes place at around 19:20 (UK) on Monday 12 February.
Broadcast live in the United Kingdom on ‘The One Show’ on BBC 1, it will be carried out by former England internationals Fara Williams, Alex Scott and Jermaine Jenas.
City’s next assignment is a tantalising Barclays Women’s Super League meeting with league leaders Chelsea on Friday 16 February.
Gareth Taylor’s side enter the fixture one place and three point behind the Londoners in what’s shaping up to be a thrilling title race.
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