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WOMEN’S ARSENAL 1-0 MAN CITY; Stuns Stenius scores the win in stoppage time



We emerged victorious  on the 8/2/2023 from our Conti Cup semi-final with a courageous and determined performance against the holders, Manchester City.

Our Gunners battled a strong and experienced City side in increasingly arctic conditions at Meadow Park on Wednesday night. When the stalemate could not be resolved after 90 minutes, Stina Blackstenius took a little extra time to book our place in the final on 5 March, one step closer to the trophy.

What happened? 

Jonas Eidevall’s side deployed in the back for the first time this season and made five changes to their starting XI after a goalless draw against West Ham on Sunday.

Our first chance in goal came in the first five minutes, thanks to a brilliant counter-attack. Kathrine Kuhl got a pass in the middle of the park and played a beautiful through ball to unblock Laura Wienroither who charged into the opposition half. Face to face with the goalkeeper, our Austrian full-back fired a clean shot, but it was canceled out by Sandy MacIver’s feet.

Shortly afterwards, Frida Maanum won the ball back on the right wing and fired in a dangerous cross into the penalty area, but our striker arrived too late to add the finishing touch.

January arrivals Victoria Pelova and Kathrine Kuhl brought a dose of flair and precise control to our first-half performance as we tried to break through the away lines.

After our lavish initial creativity, City adapted to the game and began to control possession, but whenever a shooting opportunity presented itself, their efforts often flew over the bar. But when challenged, Sabrina D’Angelo proved her power and reliability between the posts in what was only her second start for us.
Caitlin Foord, who was leading the line for our Gunners, almost gave us the lead at the end of the half after Kim Little’s ball entered the box but went scoreless at the break.

The second half started with almost the same energy, with the balanced teams looking for a breakthrough by patiently building up the aisles. The visitors continued to unleash hard shots from long range that found D’Angelo’s goal and whenever our Canadian keeper was called upon, she responded with aplomb.

Just over an hour into play, Katie McCabe’s perfectly weighted delivery into the box was headed in by Foord, only for Hurtig to shake the bar minutes after coming off the bench. A player-of-the-match performance from McCabe, with his trademark dogged determination, lit the fuse for our Gunners and it looked increasingly likely that a goal was on the line before the final whistle. In the final moments of stoppage time, Sandy MacIver fumbled a save and Stina Blackstenius was ready to leap into the box, but City somehow managed to desperately snatch the ball away.

After 90 minutes of stalemate, it only took three minutes of recovery to make a breakthrough. Starting with Maanum expropriating City in his own half, the Norwegian saw the overlapping run of Hurtig down the left wing.

Hurtig cut back to his Swedish team-mate Blackstenius in the box who completed the move with the ball in the back of the net. With 27 minutes left to defend our narrow lead, our resolute defensive line was established. Rafaelle and her fellow defenders made countless interceptions and blocks as the defending Conti Cup champions charged at our goal, but they couldn’t equalise.

What this means? 

We find Chelsea or West Ham United in the final at Selhurst Park on March 5. This semi-final takes place tomorrow at 7.15am (UK).
Our Gunners will be next in action on Saturday afternoon when we face City again at the Academy Stadium