The sold-out fixture smashed the previous best tally for a women’s domestic club match, 60,739, set when Atletico Madrid hosted Barcelona in 2019.
United, who started brightly, were hoping to win their first major silverware, but the Blues instead made it three consecutive victories in the 439-club competition.
— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) May 14, 2023
Emma Hayes’ second-placed Women’s Super League side, who have a game in hand over league leaders United, are now well-placed to do the double when the campaign concludes this month.
Perhaps what was most noteworthy about the roar that erupted as the team banners were unfurled – under the watchful eye of Football Association president the Prince of Wales – was that it was beginning to feel like a regular occurrence – a packed-out Wembley for a women’s football match in England.
United thought they had gone ahead inside the first minute through Leah Galton, but it was chalked off for offside without turning to VAR – also available for the first time for a Women’s FA Cup final.
Marc Skinner’s side were in control throughput the opening 15 minutes and benefitted from a sloppy turnover in midfield that set up Nikita Parris for another chance but Ann-Katrin Berger was alert to her effort from Ella Toone’s backheel.
Both sides settled in but created few chances until United captain Katie Zelem sent a free-kick into Chelsea’s area. A scramble ensued, the ball eventually landing at the feet of Millie Turner, who twisted and forced a good diving save from Berger to keep out the deflected effort.
Galton skied an attempt before Chelsea looked to get something started, which they nearly did when Lauren James’ long-range header came within inches of turning into an opener but was instead tipped away by England goalkeeper Mary Earps, the ball catching the left post before it went out.
It remained level at half-time, despite a late free-kick awarded to Skinner’s side after Niamh Charles brought down Parris, who had appealed for a penalty.
Zelem’s resulting delivery was headed over the top by Turner.
Kerr, the competition’s leading scorer, called Earps into action at the start of the second half before United quickly replied on the counter as Alessia Russo shot straight at Berger.
The Blues then had one of their best chances to break the deadlock when Kerr drove down the left and squared to substitute Pernille Harder, in space inside the area, but the Denmark international rolled her effort straight to the waiting Earps, who denied her again moments later.
The momentum, which favoured United for so much of the opening period, began to shift the Blues’ way as Harder sent a pinpoint cross to Kerr, who fired in the 68th-minute opener.
Skinner’s side had their chances to level but were frustrated by a determined Chelsea back line.
United staged an onslaught in the final seconds of stoppage time, but Berger somehow managed to survive the scramble with two saves to seal victory.