Conti Cup: Arsenal v Manchester City
Arsenal book their place in the Conti Cup final thanks to Stina Blackstenius' extra time goal
10 February 2023
Arsenal reached the 2023 Conti Cup final with a 1-0 win over holders Manchester City in what was a closely fought game. Stina Blackstenius scored the only goal of the match during extra time after it had finished 0-0 after 90 minutes at Meadow Park on Wednesday evening.
Jonas Eidevall made five changes to the Gunners starting line up from Sunday’s goalless draw at West Ham in the Women’s Super League (WSL). He also changed formation and played three at the back. Gareth Taylor made two changes for Man City from their 2-0 win at Leicester City with Sandy MacIver and Alanna Kennedy coming in for Ellie Roebuck and Steph Houghton.
Arsenal had the first chance of the match in the 6th minute but Laura Wienroither’s shot was well saved by MacIver. The visitor’s first attempt came after 12 minutes when Lauren Hemp’s effort from out wide was caught by D’Angelo.
Frida Leonhardsen Maanum’s free kick went into the side netting for Arsenal five minutes later. At the other end, Chloe Kelly forced D’Angelo into a good save in the 23rd minute. Man City had a few more chances in the next ten minutes but Filippa Angeldahl, Khadija Shaw and Kelly all put the ball over the bar.
Arsenal then had a couple of opportunities of their own but Caitlin Foord shot over and Leah Williamson put an effort wide. The visitors had the final chance of the first half in stoppage time but Hemp blasted the ball over from the edge of the area.
In the first minute of the second half, Angeldahl shot straight at the Arsenal keeper. In the 59th minute, Manchester City went close again when Hemp’s cross was deflected just wide. Laia Aleixandri volleyed into the side netting for the visitors after a corner. A few minutes later, Angeldahl and Shaw both saw efforts go over.
Arsenal came closest to scoring so far in the 67th minute when Lina Hurtig, who had just come on as a substitute, saw an effort from close-range hit the crossbar before Kim Little’s shot was deflected wide.
The visitors were continuing to have more of the chances though with Kerstin Casparij seeing a shot blocked as City put pressure on Arsenal’s defence in the 69th minute. A minute later, Kelly was allowed to run forward and sent a powerful shot into D’Angelo’s hands. Shaw then shot over two minutes later. Steph Catley had an important interception for Arsenal in the 74th minute when she got to a City cross first to put the ball behind after a quick counterattack.
Arsenal finished the game well and had chances to win it in the final five minutes. Another second half substitute, Blackstenius, saw her shot saved by MacIver in the 85th minute. Hurtig then headed just wide a minute later. Maanum saw a shot saved as the 90 minute mark approached.
Seven minutes of stoppage time were signalled, and four minutes into those MacIver spilled a cross but Alex Greenwood blocked Blackstenius’ effort near enough on the goal line. Blackstenius then saw a header saved before the referee blew the final whistle, and with the score at 0-0 it meant extra time.
Three minutes into it, Blackstenius gave Arsenal the lead. Hurtig’s pass found her and she finished from about 8-yards via a slight deflection off City defender Leila Ouahabi.
Manchester City did have some opportunities during the remaining 27 minutes of extra time with Deyna Castellanos, Angeldahl and Hayley Raso all seeing efforts saved whilst Hemp also put a shot wide. Maanum had the home sides only other chance but this was easily saved. The win sees the Gunners end City’s 16 game unbeaten run and reach their first Conti Cup final since 2020.
Jonas Eidevall said that he switched to a back three to “have the ability to stop City’s crosses and be well positioned inside the area when they do come in” when speaking to the press after the victory. Going into extra-time, he told the team to keep doing the basic well and to “trust the game plan”. He also spoke about Blackstenius playing in a more central position when she came on, that she had four or five really good opportunities and is working really well on that.
When speaking to the press afterwards, Gareth Taylor felt City “had played very well in large parts of the game, lacked a bit in the final third, that final bit of quality or their keeper really good saves or we didn’t make most of our number of attempts”. Taylor also said he was proud of the players and performance.
Arsenal, who have won the cup five times before, will play Chelsea in the final at Selhurst Park on Sunday 5th March. Before that, the Gunners and City play each other again on Saturday at 12:30pm at the Academy Stadium in Manchester in the WSL.
Arsenal: D’Angelo, Williamson (Beattie 83’), Wubben-Moy (Catley 64’), Rafaelle, Wienroither (Maritz 76’), Little (c), Maanum, McCabe, Pelova (Hurtig 64’), Foord, Khul (Blackstenius 65’)
Substitutes: Zinsberger, Marckese, Walti, Agyemang
Goal – Blackstenius 93’
Booked – Wubben-Moy 53’, Little 71’, Rafaelle 81’, Maritz 92’, Foord 116’
Manchester City: MacIver, Casparij (Coombs 101’), Kennedy (Houghton 89’), Greenwood (c), Aleixandri (Ouahabi 80’), Hasegawa, Castellanos, Angeldahl (Fowler 113’), Kelly (Raso 90’), Shaw, Hemp
Substitutes: Roebuck, Blakstad, Dahou
Booked – Kelly 35’, Hemp 90+5
Referee – Abigail Byrne