Arsenal Ladies clinched their 14th FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Chelsea Ladies, in front of a record 32,912 attendance at Wembley for a women's football match.
Danielle Carter opened the scoring 17 minutes into the first-half with a delightful chip over Hedvig Lindahl, who could only look on in awe.
Fran Kirby had multiple chances but the off-season signing from Reading was unable to test Sari van Veenendahl throughout 90 minutes of football.
Arsenal Ladies needed penalties on two occasions (Birmingham and last seasons finalists, Notts County) to make the final. Chelsea on the other hand had an easier road to the final which included a 4-1 over Doncaster and a 6-0 victory over Aston Villa, before a late winner against Manchester City booked Emma Hayes' side a place in the final.
Sun, football, atmosphere..
The second Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley got away to a fitting start with God Save the Queen, sung by Samantha Barks – sang in unison from both sets of supporters under the beaming sun.
Arsenal got the game underway kicking from left-to-right as Carter came close to opening the scoring on two occasions in the early stages. Less than a minute into the game, the England forward attempted a lob from 30-yards, which inched just over the bar of Kindahl.
Carter, 22, looked threatening again as the Arsenal forward forced a corner, which was subsequently cleared.
Arsenal continued to impress as Jordan Nobbs’ cross from the left-flank was just out of reach of Nigerian international Asisat Oshoala – Lindahl had to be aware of the threat as Pedro Martinez Losa’s side looked impressive.
Chelsea continued to look subdued as Arsenal and Carter again posed a threat for Millie Bright and former-Gunners defender, Gilly Flaherty. Carter linked up well with Oshoala with the latter getting the better of her marker – before Bright cleared the ball for a corner.
Losa’s side had dominated the opening ten minutes with 67 percent of the possession. Today’s referee, Sarah Garratt, then awarded Arsenal a free-kick following a high foot. Fara Willliams’ resulting free-kick sailed just over the crossbar from 30-yards.
Arsenal did finally capitalise from their early possession when Carter picked the ball up on the left-flank, before cutting inside the penalty area and bending the ball past Lindahl – a completely different Arsenal side had turned up on Saturday afternoon.
Kirby had a golden opportunity to equalise for Chelsea just seconds later – but the most expensive transfer in women’s football failed to beat Van Veenendaal at the near post.
A burst forward from Vicky Losada almost grabbed Arsenal a second after her backheel pass to Kelly Smith was denied by a last ditch tackle from Katie Chapman.
Ji So-yun won the FA Cup for Chelsea last season, but the South Korean was unable to keep her effort down after Gemma Davison found the 25-year-old with a delightful cross.
Another chance went begging for Chelsea as Drew Spence failed to get a clean connection with the ball – which ultimately sailed past Van Veenendaal.
Arsenal manager Losa looked the happier as both teams headed down the tunnel, but the Spaniard will be wary of Chelsea’s counter-attacking threat.
High intensity restart from Arsenal Ladies
Arsenal had started the second-half like they did the first. Oshoala came out attacking, causing Ana Borges problems before finding Smith, whose header cannoned back off the crossbar before Carter forced Lindahl into yet another save.
Hayes was the first to blink as Niamh Fahey and Eniola Aluko made their FA Cup Final appearance in place of Bright and Karen Carney.
Hannah Blundell burst forward for Chelsea in their first attack of the half but the defender saw her effort blocked via Casey Stoney.
Aluko’s first contribution came ten minutes after her inclusion as she tried to recreate Carter’s goal from earlier – bit the Chelsea forward was unable to test Van Veenendaal. Arsenal then broke quickly and again Oshoala had the ball at her feet with just Lindahl to beat, but the Nigerian was lost her footing at the vital moment.
Arsenal had dominated for much of the second-half, but Aluko’s introduction spurred the Chelsea side on as the England star forced a block from Stoney. The resulting corner was met by an unmarked So-yun, who brought the ball down under control before shooting the ball just wide.
Losa brought on both Dominique Janssen and Danielle van de Donk to see out the game in the closing stages, which they truly did as Garratt brought the Women's 2016 FA Cup Final to an end. Arsenal were victorious.