Carli Lloyd returned to the hallowed ground where she won the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal with her new club team, Manchester City, in the final of the FA Cup - the top cup competition in England, and the only domestic title City were yet to win.
In Manchester City and Birmingham City, we had two sides who were making their Wembley debuts, and the same can be said for the majority of players taking the field. Lloyd, however, has well documented history at Wembley Stadium; she was the scorer of both the USWNT’s goals as they beat Japan 2-1 in the 2012 Olympic Final.
Manchester City manager Nick Cushing deployed Lloyd at centre forward in a 4-3-3, with Melissa Lawley and Nikita Parris either side of her - as opposed to her more preferred role of centre mid.
Explosive first half for City
In the early parts of the game Lloyd seemed to be bypassed by her teammates who opted to use the width against Birmingham’s clearly under-rehearsed back three. Her side took the lead in the 17th minute through Lucy Bronze, as the England star headed home Megan Campbell’s curling free kick. Izzy Christiansen doubled the lead not long after, but still Lloyd was a peripheral figure.
But, in typical Carli Lloyd style, she couldn’t stay out of the action for long, and Manchester City’s third goal was made and finished by Lloyd.
First, her connection with Lawley set up a corner, and when the ball came back out to Campbell to cross she found Lloyd open at the back stick for a relatively simple headed goal.
Birmingham unsurprisingly upped their game in the second half and reduced the number of chances for Lloyd and her side, and managed to find the net themselves as Charlie Wellings scored the best goal of the match, a left footed shot past Karen Bardsley and into the side netting.
England’s Jill Scott fired over the keeper for City’s fourth in the 79th minute, although there was still time for Lloyd to produce an excellent bit of play that almost resulted in the fifth for Manchester City. She played a lovely give and go with substitute Georgia Stanway, but the youngster opted to shoot even though Lloyd was making a great run down the middle.
Another title for Lloyd
Despite not being a key figure in the victory - mostly due to the higher position she was playing in - Carli Lloyd still scored another Wembley goal, and can add the FA Cup to her list of current titles, alongside World Player of the Year and 2015 Women's World Cup.
With the Champions League and FA Cup both finished, City’s attention will now turn back to the FAWSL Spring Series, although they will have to fend off stiff competition from Chelsea and Liverpool if they want to remain on top of the English domestic game.