MANCHESTER CITY WOMEN are the 2017 SSE Women’s FA Cup winners after they beat Birmingham City Ladies 4-1 at Wembley Stadium.
The game was dominated by Man City as goalscorers Lucy Bronze, Izzy Christiansen, Carli Lloyd and Jill Scott ran riot and didn’t provide any breathing space for Birmingham City.
Lucy Bronze started the scoring as Manchester City routed Birmingham City to claim their first FA Cup.
The England defender grabbed the opener and set up Izzy Christiansen for the second before USA star Carli Lloyd added a third.
Sub Charlie Wellings pulled one back for Birmingham but Jill Scott’s strike put the game beyond doubt.
A competition record crowd of 35,271 turned up in the Wembley sunshine, topping the 32,912 fans who watched Arsenal lift the trophy at the national stadium last year.
Birmingham went into the game as underdogs against last year’s Women’s Super League champions but enjoyed some early pressure, Freda Ayisi forcing a Karen Bardlsey save on seven minutes.
But after that it was all about Manchester City, with world player of the year Lloyd seeing a header saved a minute later after rising to meet Bronze’s cross.
Megan Campbell shook the side netting for the Mancunians in the 16th minute, meeting a Christiansen cross.
Then Bronze bagged the opener with a header from a Campbell free-kick in the 18th minute.
The full-back turned provider when she picked out Christiansen at the far post, who placed her shot into the top corner to double the lead.
And Lloyd made it three when she leapt above keeper Ann-Katrin Berger to head home from another Campbell delivery just after the half-hour mark.
Birmingham went out after the break with a mountain to climb and Nikita Parris nearly added to City’s haul in the 54thminute, with Berger diving to palm away her curling effort across goal.
Bardsley had to be on her toes to keep out a rasping Ellen White 25-yarder just after the hour.
And Birmingham pulled one back when Wellings came off the bench to hit home on the 73rd minute.
But any hope of a comeback was all but lost when Lionesses midfielder Scott rode a Sarah Mayling challenge to sweep home in the box with 10 minutes left.
Sub Georgia Stanway nearly added a fifth in stoppage time after dancing into the box to turn and shoot, but the 18-year-old fired just over before the final whistle blew for captain Steph Houghton and her side to climb the famous steps to collect the trophy.
The Women’s FA Cup Final has set a new competition-record crowd at Wembley with 35,271 attendance today, which surpasses the 32,912 that saw Arsenal Ladies beat Chelsea 1-0 in the 2016 final.
Birmingham City Ladies: Berger, Sargeant, Mannion, Harrop, Mayling, Carter, Hegerberg, Peplow, Williams, Stringerat, White, Ayisi, Wellings, Brazil
Subs not used: Baggaley, Westwood
Manchester City Women: Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton, Campbell, McManus, Stokes, scott, Walsh, Christiansen, Parris, Stanway, Lloyd, Lawley, Duggan
Subs not used: Beattie, Hourihan
WHAT THEY SAID
Manchester City’s Keira Walsh, who was named player of the match, told BBC Two:
“It feels unbelievable. It is considered the biggest trophy in England and the only one we had not won so far. It is a great feeling to take it back to Manchester.”
England Manager Mark Sampson told BBC Two:
“Birmingham will have a lot of lessons to learn. From a football point of view they will learn that in the big games you have to play what is in front of you. They stuck to the plan, which is honest, but it was the wrong plan and they should have adapted.”
World player of the year and Manchester City goalscorer Carli Lloyd, told BBC Two:
“It was a fantastic team performance.
“This team has been trying to win this trophy for sometime and I’ve just come along in the last few months to push that a long.
“This win shows the character of the team, and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”
Manchester City captain Steph Houghton told BBC Two:
“Being favourites put us under a tiny bit of pressure, but this is what this team is all about – big players who can cope with big occasion and that showed in the first half when we were unbelievable.
“I’m just delighted for every single one of us.”
Former England forward Sue Smith told BBC Two:
“The best team won. They were solid in defence and clinical in attack. Birmingham were better in the second half but they couldn’t cope with Man City’s quality.”