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Stina Blackstenius scores extra-time winner as Arsenal reach League Cup final

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FA Women’s League Cup: Arsenal 1-0 Man City (aet) – highlights

Stina Blackstenius scored the winner in extra time as Arsenal edged past holders Manchester City 1-0 to reach the Continental League Cup final.

Blackstenius pounced on fellow substitute Lina Hurtig’s 93rd-minute cross to decide the semi-final with a deflected finish and move her side a game away from their first trophy since they won the 2018-19 Women’s Super League.

In a tense, absorbing contest between two in-form WSL teams, City’s lack of incisiveness proved costly as their 16-game unbeaten run came to an end with their first defeat since September.

Record five-time winners Arsenal now face a final against West Ham United or Chelsea, who play their semi-final on Thursday.

The showpiece will take place on 5 March at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park.

Arsenal triumph in tactical tussle

Manchester City’s players had voiced their excitement at the prospect of taking on the third-placed Gunners twice this week after drawing level on points with them last weekend.

In a game that had been anticipated as a revealing rehearsal for a potentially pivotal WSL fixture, it was little surprise to see a tight tactical stand-off play out between a City side undefeated in so long and a reliably well-drilled Arsenal defence arriving on a run of three successive clean sheets in all competitions.

Chloe Kelly’s uncompromising back-and-forth with Katie McCabe was among the entertaining individual tussles, while Lauren Hemp bristled with creative intent in her attempts to supply WSL top scorer Bunny Shaw.

Arsenal had fewer attempts but better chances in a game dependent on swiftness in transitions, pouncing on slack passing to go close through Laura Wienroither, who was thwarted by City goalkeeper Sandy MacIver in the early stages, and Caitlin Foord, who so nearly connected decisively with an inviting Kim Little cross.

Head coach Jonas Eidevall’s introductions of Steph Catley, Hurtig and Blackstenius early in the second half felt like a statement of intent and left City looking contrastingly short of ideas.

Substitute Hurtig had an immediate impact during a rapid exchange of chances, smacking the crossbar with a close-range finish when it looked easier to score.

The Gunners could have scored twice in the closing moments of normal time, Blackstenius seeing her shot on the turn thwarted by an exceptional reflex stop by MacIver and Hurtig glancing a header wide of a post.

MacIver almost spoiled her impressive display when the stand-in for City regular Ellie Roebuck spilled an innocuous cross, only for captain Alex Greenwood to stop Blackstenius from capitalising in chaotic fashion.

Filippa Angeldahl’s fierce drive after City fell behind then drew a crucial save from Arsenal goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo, who was on high alert behind a stout defensive block as Eidevall’s players closed out victory.

These teams have little more than 48 hours’ turnaround before they meet again at City’s Academy Stadium on Saturday.

With both standing five points behind Chelsea – Arsenal have a game in hand – the imperative to win should produce a more cavalier encounter than this suspenseful cup tie provided.

Home TeamArsenal WomenAway TeamMan City Women
Possession
Home50%
Away50%
Shots
Home15
Away23
Shots on Target
Home7
Away7
Corners
Home4
Away8
Fouls
Home11
Away10
Source:BBC Sport
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