Jonas Eidevall hails ‘phenomenal’ Kim Little as Arsenal win Continental Cup

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall heaped praise on captain Kim Little after her penalty in the Continental Cup final helped earn the Gunners their first trophy in nearly four years with a 3-1 victory over Chelsea.

Arsenal came from behind in front of a record Women’s League Cup final crowd of 19,010 at Selhurst Park to claim their first silverware since winning the Women’s Super League in 2018/19.

Stina Blackstenius cancelled out Sam Kerr’s second-minute opener before Little fired home from the spot and a Niamh Charles own goal completed the scoring half-time.

“I’m very proud of the team’s display,” Eidevall said. “Of course we got off to a very difficult start conceding the goal early on, so it was a real test of character and I think we handled it brilliantly.

“When you thought (Little) couldn’t get better she puts on that performance. I told Kim straight after the game, I wasn’t sure if it was possible, but this is the best you’ve been when I’ve been the coach. I think she’s phenomenal.

“The way she connects the team, the duels, the work rate, the decision-making on the ball, I think she played close to a perfect match. I’m so happy for her, because I think it is a trait of a great player to have a performance like that.”

Chelsea edged last Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round contest with the Gunners, Sophie Ingle and Kerr scoring in that 2-0 victory.

This time, aside from her opener, a header from Guro Reiten’s pinpoint cross, Arsenal were largely able to shut down the Australian striker.

While possession was ultimately an even 50/50 split, the Gunners’ victory was well-deserved, the third goal seeming to sink Chelsea’s spirits.

Boss Emma Hayes made several second-half changes hoping to ignite a comeback, but substitute Melanie Leupolz could only hit the crossbar as the Blues ran out of time.

“I don’t think the team today looked anywhere near the side that I know,” said Hayes.

“Like I said, sometimes when you’ve got a lot of trophies, and we have lots of them, I saw the fire in the players for Arsenal, and I didn’t see that in us today, and I think that made it really, really difficult for us to get back in the game.

“The third goal killed that off. I’m very disappointed with that complacency from us.”