Man City Through To Conti Cup Final
Manchester City held on to a slender 1-0 lead to go through to the final of the Continental Cup despite intense pressure from Arsenal on an emotional afternoon at the Academy Stadium.
Jennifer Beatie scored the only goal of the game ten minutes from time in a match that both teams were desperate to win.
With the final being held at the Academy Stadium for the first time, the prospect of lifting a trophy in front of their home fans was all the motivation City needed going into this game.
While for Arsenal –who have played in every final since 2011 and who are the current holders of the trophy – this was definitely a game they were determined not to lose.
The match began in a sombre mood after tributes were made to the memory of former Manchester City player Zoe Tynan who passed away last week.
And both teams started cautiously in a tight first half marked more by half-chances rather than any real threats on goal.
The best City could produce was a shot from Duggan on twenty three minutes that ended a fine move involving Scott, Ross and Christiansen. While at the other end it was unfortunate for Arsenal that City keeper Marie Hourihan was in excellent form and that striker Asisat Oshoala was to be let down by her touch on more than one occasion.
The second half started with Arsenal pressing forward believing that this was a match they could win without the need for extra time – and it was the Gunners who created the best chances of the half.
Giving an indication of what was to follow, Danielle Carter blazed the ball over the bar from the edge of the six yard box when she should have done much better.
Fifteen minutes later Carter again produced the best moment of the match when she let fly with a fierce twenty yard shot that cannoned off the crossbar.
But it was City who took the lead against the run of play when – in a move similar to one in their last league match – Jen Beattie finished off a free-kick taken by Toni Duggan – this time drilled in low across the area for Beattie to connect with on the rebound.
This set up a frantic last ten minutes with Arsenal throwing everyone into the City half – including Keeper Byrne – in search of an equaliser.
And It was nail-biting stuff as Steph Houghton cleared the ball off the line in the final minutes.
At the final whistle the relief at getting through such a difficult game was evident as players from both teams dropped to their knees in total exhaustion.
Man City will now play Birmingham City in the final at the beginning of October and if Birmingham can re-discover their earlier form this could be a very close game, indeed.