FA WSL: Manchester City Women v Birmingham City Ladies – Continental Cup Final

Lucy Bronze’s extra time header was enough for Manchester City to retain the Continental Cup. It was a third defeat in six years in the final for a spirited Birmingham side who did well to keep out City’s star studded line-up.

Birmingham had the first chance of the game as Kirsty Linnett shot wide from 25 yards out.

Jennifer Beattie had a great chance to open the scoring for City, but her powerful drive was pushed aside by Blues keeper Ann Katrin Berger.

As the contest became more physical, chances slowly started coming, and the opening goal was looking more and more likely. It was Manchester City who were looking the more dangerous, Toni Duggan causing problems for the Midlanders’ defence, and Jill Scott wreaking her usual havoc on her right wing.

It was Nikita Parris’ turn to have a go, as she fired at Berger from close range after being released by Scott.

Man City chances kept coming, as Bronze fired over from distance, before City had the ball in the net. Bronze broke through a number of bodies finding Parris, who set up Ross for a header but with Parris offside, the goal was ruled out.

Birmingham were defending resolutely and City couldn’t break them down. Parris looked likely to open the scoring but the Blues were able to clear after she scuffed her shot.

Goalless at the break, it was Birmingham who went in the much happier side.

The agenda was the same for the opening period of the second half with City attacking, but not doing much with it, and Birmingham defending well.

Freda Ayisi’s effort from outside the box was Birmingham’s only chance in a tetchy start. It took almost half an hour for the next big chance to fall.

City’s Ross played a great ball through to substitute Kosovare Asslani, who turned her marker, but Berger pounced on the ball as the Swede did her best to go around her. Duggan then hit a free kick wildly over as City became more and more frustrated.

The pressure kept coming but Blues kept strong at the back.  The game did burst into life, yet it was perhaps a shame for the record 4124 spectators, that it took until stoppage time.

From a Birmingham corner, City cleared and Izzy Christiansen turned on the afterburners to go one on one with the on-rushing Berger. Berger got there first, but her clearance only gave City the chance for another attack. Yet again the Birmingham defence kept the WSL champions out.

Full time 0-0 – and another thirty minutes.

In extra time, City’s supremacy showed again as Scott continued her good work on the flanks. It was her link up with Asslani that brought the first chance of the additional period. The cross eventually found its way to Duggan who could only fire over the bar.

Manchester City asserted dominance with just a minute of the first period to go. Duggan swung in a corner from the right, Berger came out to claim but completely missed the ball and Bronze had an empty net to head into.

It was harsh on a Birmingham side that had continued to defend well. It should have been two for Manchester City when Tessel Middag cannoned a first time effort against the foot of the post.

Daphne Corboz then broke free, but opted to cut inside when perhaps she should have gone for the cross, allowing Birmingham to cut out the attack.

Birmingham had their chance to equalise in the dying seconds but it proved to be City’s day for the second time in a week.

 

 

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