Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea: Gunners lift the Women's League Cup

Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea: Gunners stage a terrific first-half comeback to lift the Women’s League Cup as Niamh Charles’ own goal seals victory after goals from Stina Blackstenius and Kim Little initially put them in control

  • Arsenal have won the Women’s League Cup by beating Chelsea 3-1 on Sunday
  • The Gunners staged a stunning comeback after going behind early on
  • Three first-half goals sealed victory as Arsenal held on to claim a famous win 

A 3-1 victory over Chelsea in the Continental League Cup gives manager Jonas Eidevall his first piece of silverware as Gunners boss. His side simply wanted and needed it more.

Dumped out of the FA Cup by the Blues last weekend and nine points adrift from the top of the Women’s Super League, not winning this trophy could have ended their season. 

They are still in the Champions League and, with games in-hand, are very much still in the title race. But the psychological impact of failing to win and, more importantly, losing to Chelsea again would have had long-lasting implications.

They could not have made a worse start here, with Sam Kerr putting Chelsea ahead after just 98 seconds. But, much like Mikel Arteta’s side had done a day earlier, Arsenal fought back. 

Perhaps there is something in the water in north London? A Stina Blackstenius strike, a Kim Little penalty and an own goal from Niamh Charles completed a first half turnaround.

Arsenal have won the Women’s League Cup after a terrific first-half performance saw them come from behind

Chelsea’s stars surrendered an early lead and couldn’t break down a robust Arsenal side for a second time

Kim Little’s penalty put Arsenal in-front for the first-time in the Selhurst Park cup encounter

Eidevall had said before this game that he had never watched Chelsea lift a trophy. ‘I’ve tried to escape watching those moments’. He did not have to escape at Selhurst Park.

For Emma Hayes, this will leave a bitter taste. Chelsea owner Todd Boehly was watching from the stands. He is not a good luck charm for the women either it seems.

Arsenal had not won a trophy since lifting the 2018-2019 title. Coincidentally, that was the last time Chelsea ended a season trophyless. Hayes will not fear that her side cannot bounce back. 

They were beaten by Manchester City in last year’s final of this competition and went on to win the league. With fixtures against Manchester United, City and a Champions League tie with Lyon to come this month, they need to shake this defeat off quickly.

That Arsenal only had to win three games to earn this trophy raises questions over whether changes need to be made to the format of this competition going forward. There have already been multiple restructures, with the FA flipping between straight knockout rounds and group stages, which is the current format. 

But this structure means teams competing in the Champions League by-pass the group stage and enter at the quarter-finals, which is what both Arsenal and Chelsea did. It is tricky to find the right formula due to the women’s game only having one fully professional league, with the Championship made up of a mixture of part-time and full-time clubs. 

But those questions can wait. An attendance of 19,010, which beat last year’s record of 8,004, shows there is enough interest in this competition but that it is not yet ready to be held at Wembley.

The atmosphere at Selhurst Park, though, was electric and fans did not have to wait long for the opening goal. Ninety-eight seconds had passed when Kerr rose to meet Guro Reiten’s cross to power a header in off the crossbar. It was a disastrous start for Arsenal, whose form did not point towards a comeback.

Sam Kerr (centre) bundled the ball over the line to open the scoring in the League Cup final

Arsenal equalised in the 16th minute as Stina Blackstenius drove a powerful effort goalbound

Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger (green) was unable to stop Blackstenius’ (red) brilliant strike

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall celebrated a famous League Cup victory at Selhurst Park

But rather than wilting, Arsenal rose to the occasion and drew themselves level 14 minutes later. Kerr managed to stop Frida Maanum getting a shot off on the edge of the box but the ball deflected off Magdalena Eriksson’s heel and into the path of Blackstenius, who slotted a first-time finish past Ann-Katrin Berger. 

It was exactly the type of instinctive goal that the forward, who has been criticised for missing numerous chances, needed.

Arsenal were on top and Blackstenius had the ball in the net again in the 35th minute but was correctly flagged offside.

Hayes had seen enough by 40 minutes and brought on Kadeisha Buchanan for Jelena Cankovic as the Blues changed shape. But it did little to stop the Gunners’ on-slaught and a third goal came in first half stoppage time. 

Chelsea owner Todd Boehly watched on from the stands as his side lost the League Cup

Arsenal have won the Women’s League Cup after a terrific first-half performance saw them come from behind

Berger came and missed Steph Catley’s corner and Niamh Charles could only head into her own net while under pressure from Rafaelle.

Berger nearly gifted Arsenal another after the break when her pass to Buchanan was intercepted by Blackstenius, but the forward could only deflect the ball back to the goalkeeper.

Buchanan too was lucky not to give a penalty away on the hour mark when she barged into Caitlin Foord in the box. Chelsea could not find a way through as Arsenal looked to preserve their two-goal margin. 

Manuela Zinsberger made an important save to keep out a Leupolz volley from the edge of the box before Reiten’s looping cross almost sneaked in at the near-post. But that was the best Chelsea could manage in the second half. Eidevall won the tackle battle and with it, his, and Arsenal’s, first trophy since 2019.


Arsenal (4-3-3): Zinsberger 6.5, Maritz 7, Wienroither 70, 6), Williamson 7, Rafaelle 8, Catley 7, Walti 7, Little 7.5, Maanum 7, Foord 7.5, Blackstenius 8.5 (Beattie 87), McCabe 8 (Pelova 57)

Subs not used: Marckese, Wubben-Moy, Hurtig, Kuhl

Booked: McCabe, Foord

Goals: Blackstenius 16, Little 24, Charles (OG) 45+5

Manager: Jonas Eidevall 8

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Berger 5, Perisset 6, Bright 6, Eriksson 5 (Fleming 77, 6), Charles 5 (Leupolz 45, 5), Cuthbert 6, Ingle 5 (Rytting Kaneryd 63, 6) James 6, Cankovic 5 (Buchanan 40, 5), Reiten 6.5, Kerr 6

Subs not used: Musovic, Carter, Mjelde, Abdullina

Booked: Leupolz, James

Goals: Kerr 2

Manager: Emma Hayes 6

Referee: Kirsty Dowle 6

Attendance: 19,010


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