Manchester United 4-0 Tottenham: Lucia Garcia and Ella Toone star in big Women's FA Cup final win

Man United lifted the Women’s FA Cup trophy for the first time (The FA via Getty Images)
Man United lifted the Women’s FA Cup trophy for the first time (The FA via Getty Images)

There comes a time when a promising team must come of age and show themselves to be something more.

Last year’s Women’s FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea proved not to be that moment for Manchester United, but a 4-0 thrashing of first-time finalists Tottenham showed they have grown in stature and belong in the big time.

If Ella Toone’s sensational opener displayed her and United at their very best, further goals from Rachel Williams and Lucia Garcia (twice) served to demonstrate the control they had of Spurs and of the occasion at Wembley.

Leah Galton had the ball in the net just 20 seconds into last year’s final, though it was later disallowed for offside. A year on and those inside a sold-out Wembley were met with a similarly frantic start to the game.

Matilda Vinberg’s sighter flew over for Tottenham, before Toone fed Leah Galton but Becky Spencer smothered.

Ella Toone’s brilliance gave Man United the lead before half-time (Action Images via Reuters)
Ella Toone’s brilliance gave Man United the lead before half-time (Action Images via Reuters)

Then the inception of a trend throughout the match — Williams winning the ball unchallenged in the air but missing the target. First she nodded over, then she headed just wide from a beckoning corner delivery by Katie Zelem.

United captain Zelem offers such dangerous set-piece deliveries, and her very next one almost brought the opener as Millie Turner’s knock-down was skied by the otherwise immaculate Garcia under pressure.

The first half winding down and towards the interval, it took a moment of inspiration for United to deservedly break the deadlock. Ella Toone ran half the length of the Wembley pitch, skipped past a diving challenge, and curled the an unerring finishing right into the top corner. She darted to the adoring United fans.

Spurs felt Williams had blocked off Hannah Blundell in the build up and, in truth, maybe she had. But they could take nothing away from the goal, which stood.

After the break, United took an even firmer control of proceedings. They say you shouldn’t make a substitution before defending a set piece, and that proved a curse for Tottenham. Immediately after making double change, they fell two behind when Zelem’s free-kick was headed in by Williams. Finally the 36-year-old had found the net with her head, and she’d done so against the side she last played for.

Marc Skinner’s Red Devils were red hot and scored their third just three minutes later. It was, as Spencer herself would admit, a gift from the Tottenham goalkeeper. Her hashed pass fell straight for Garcia. The Spain forward could not believe her luck but duly cashed it in, sliding into the empty net.

Tottenham had knocked out Manchester City and Leicester City on their way to a first-ever major final. Their first season under unassuming head coach Robert Vilahamn has been a revelatory one, but their players looked shattered, crowded out and heading for a thrashing.

And after Beth England had slammed a header against the crossbar and held her head in her hands for what felt like an eternity, the scoreline got worse, still, for Spurs and more commanding for United as the ball fell for Garcia to slam home her second of the afternoon.

England did all she could to offer herself as an outlet for the remaining quarter of an hour, but her side were well beaten.

Vilahamn’s influence can ensure Tottenham become, in time, a genuine force in the women’s game. This, though, was United’s crowning moment as one.