Chelsea won their second Women’s FA Cup as they beat London rivals Arsenal in front of a new competition-record crowd of 45,423 at Wembley.
After a quiet first half, Ramona Bachmann brought the game to life with two fine strikes shortly after the break to put Chelsea in control.
Vivianne Miedema’s low finish gave Arsenal hope, but Fran Kirby restored the two-goal lead with a fine finish.
The Gunners, playing in their 16th final, were unable to respond late on.
The result kept Chelsea’s hopes of a domestic double alive, with four more games remaining of the Women’s Super League One season and only goal difference separating them and leaders Manchester City.
For Arsenal, who had been bidding for their second domestic trophy of the season after lifting March’s Continental Tyres Cup, the defeat was only their second in their 16 FA Cup final appearances, as they were unable to add to their dominant record of 14 wins.
The fourth Women’s FA Cup final to be played at the national stadium endured a relatively subdued first half of few clear-cut chances, but it sparked into life when the lively Bachmann fired in to the roof of the net soon after half-time.
The 27-year-old Switzerland international soon doubled the lead, as her well-hit shot from the right-hand side was deflected in to the far corner.
Arsenal, who had gone close through Miedema’s deflected effort in the first half, pulled one back through the Netherlands striker, as she tucked in after good work from Beth Mead.
But Kirby’s clinical finish to make it 3-1 added to a remarkable season that has seen her awarded both the PFA Women’s Player of the Year and FWA footballer of the year award, as well as helping the Blues reach the semi-finals of the Women’s Champions League.
Hayes leads Blues to more glory
Victory saw Chelsea claim their fourth piece of major domestic silverware, all of which have come under boss Emma Hayes’ tenure, since the former Arsenal assistant coach took charge in 2012.
The Blues’ second FA Cup added to their 2015 league title and their triumph in 2017’s one-off, transitional spring series.
Hayes – who is 33-weeks pregnant with twins and opted to follow the match from the dugout, seated, after health advice – has built a side full of talented internationals and her front three of Kirby, South Korea’s Ji So-Yun and Bachmann delivered for their manager when it mattered after half-time.
The result saw the Blues avenge 2016’s 1-0 loss to the Gunners at Wembley – a game in which Hayes had been critical of her side for “not turning up”, but the same could not be said on Saturday.
Chapman’s record-breaking 10th FA Cup
Almost exactly 21 years since winning her first FA Cup on 4 May, 1997 with Millwall Lionesses – then aged just 14 – midfielder Katie Chapman captained the Blues as she earned her 10th winners’ medal in the competition.
The former Arsenal star has also – impressively – started in all 10 of those final successes.
Her new record 10th cup win capped another marvellous campaign for the heavily-decorated 37-year-old, who performed well in the relatively deep holding role for the Blues at Wembley.
Player of the match – Ramona Bachmann
The former Wolfsburg forward’s two goals were vital but her movement, quick feet and tireless work ethic brought world-class calibre to the game.
Hayes’ capture of Bachmann from the German side, who have knocked Chelsea out of Europe three seasons in a row, has been a key part of their recent success and may well yet play a pivotal role as they look to achieve their next target – winning the Women’s Champions League.
‘Chelsea are a powerful team’ – what they said
Arsenal Women boss Joe Montemurro told BBC Sport: “We’re obviously disappointed but Chelsea are a powerful team.
“They’ve got players who can play on the big stages and they did that. The more we play these big games and these big teams, the more we’ll learn and get better.
“We need to be smarter and maybe a little bit braver in the way we set up defensively.
“We’re making small steps. We can’t change it overnight. My projects are always long-term, they’re never short-term.
“Whatever XI Chelsea put out is a strong team. We’re a little bit different. We’ve got a very young squad. The future is bright.”
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