Aston Villa’s rare shock over Manchester City breathes new life into cup
Aston Villa Women 2 Manchester City Women 1
Upsets in the Women’s FA Cup have been all too rare so Aston Villa’s extra-time victory over Manchester City provided a much-needed shock for this competition and provided a refreshing feel to the semi-final line-up.
Even though fifth-in-the-top-flight facing third-in-the-top-flight hardly represented David versus Goliath, it is the first time since February 2013, and since they turned professional the following year, that Manchester City have been knocked out of this competition by somebody other than Chelsea, with those two rivals having won the cup in each of the past six seasons.
More to the point, only Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City have lifted the cup since Birmingham City in 2012. But now only one of that dominant trio will be involved in Tuesday’s draw for this season’s semi-finals. Further still, the progression of Manchester United, Villa and Brighton all ensured there will be at least one Wembley debutante in the final on May 14.
“It’s probably the biggest night in Villa’s history,” said their delighted manager, Carla Ward. “The last couple of days in training have been through the roof, because we’re challenging them every day to take the next step and go to the next level. That tonight sums up what the last few days have looked like: a willingness, a togetherness, a relentless attitude.”
Villa are enjoying their best ever season in women’s football, sitting fifth in the top tier, and are now through to their first major semi-final of the modern era.
That is thanks to an extra-time winner from England striker Rachel Daly, who scored under the watching eyes of England head coach Sarina Wiegman and her assistant Arjan Veurink. Daly tapped in at the far post after poor marking from Manchester City from a deep Villa set-piece, which was nodded on by the immense Anna Patten, saved by Ellie Roebuck and turned in by Daly.
Both teams had spurned glorious chances to win the tie in the latter stages of the initial 90 minutes, with Manchester City and England’s Chloe Kelly placing wide when through one-on-one with their best effort. Deyna Castellanos had earlier headed in the visitors’ equaliser, after Rachel Corsie’s deflected headed opener. Roebuck also produced a top-quality save to deny Daly in the first half, of what was an engrossing affair.
Last year’s finalists, City, now just have the league title remaining as their only chance of avoiding a trophy-less campaign.
Aston Villa Women (4-5-1): Hampton 6; Mayling 6 (Pacheco 7, 60), Patten 8, Corsie 8, Turner 6; Blindkilde Brown 6 (Lehmann 7, 79), Staniforth 8, Nobbs 7 (Rabjohn 6, 118), Dali 7, Hanson 7 (Gregory 5, 120+1); Daly 8.
Substitutes not used: Leat (gk), Mullett.
Booked: Dali, Hanson.
Manchester City Women (4-2-3-1): Roebuck 7; Casparij 7, Morgan 6, Greenwood 7, Aleixandri 7 (Fowler 6, 105); Hasegawa 7, Angeldahl 6 (Coombs 6, 105; Kelly 6, Castellanos 6, Hemp 6 (Raso 6, 112); Shaw 6.
Substitutes not used: Stokes, Houghton, Ouahabi, MacIver (gk), Kennedy, Blakstad.
Referee: Rebecca Welch.