SSE Women's FA Cup Final: West Ham 0 Manchester City 3
PUBLISHED: 19:25 04 May 2019 | UPDATED: 19:26 04 May 2019
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West Ham's hopes of an historic Women's FA Cup Final success at Wembley Stadium were shattered by three second-half Manchester City goals.
The WSL newcomers had the best chance of the opening half, as Jane Ross saw a header superbly saved by Karen Bardsley, but conceded seven minutes after the restart.
And two goals in the last nine minutes allowed City to put some gloss on the scoreline, which was harsh on the hard-workingn Hammers.
Having put out Championship trio Blackburn, Huddersfield and Aston Villa, before a penalty shoot-out success over WSL rivals Reading in the semi-final en route to Wembley, this final against mighty Manchester City represented one of the toughest tests possible for the Hammers.
WSL champions in 2016 and runners-up to Chelsea and Arsenal in the last two seasons, while also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, City had lifted the FA Cup in 2017 and won the Contintental Cup three times in five years.
And their squad boasted a wealth of international experience, with 7-1 and 3-1 league wins over the Hammers earlier in the season, making them clear favourites.
But West Ham boss Matt Beard was happy with his side being underdogs on the big day, claiming it as his biggest achievement as manager, and named the most experienced starting line-up possible having told them to go out and enjoy it.
“If we can get our hands on the Cup, it would be one of the great stories in the history of women's football,” he said.
They gave it a good go.
A lovely ball over the top of the City defence by Brooke Hendrix found Jane Ross, but the Scottish striker could not profit from a tight angle on the left.
Gilly Flaherty produced a superb tackle on Nikita Parris in the box, as the City striker prepared to shoot having run on to a long pass in an even opening quarter of an hour.
But City then started to get a bit more of the ball, probing in the final third and coming up a determined West Ham rearguard, with Ria Percival acting as a defensive shield in front of the back four.
Another impressivee Flaherty tackle on Georgia Stanway was deemed a foul by referee Abigail Byrne, but Caroline Weir's free-kick skimmed off the head of a teammate and went behind.
Stanway was spoken to by Byrne after lobbing the ball over Anna Moorhouse and into the box, having been flagged offside from Parris' through ball.
And West Ham went close to breaking the deadlock moments later on 29 minutes when Ross found Erin Simon on the right, then met her wicked delivery with a downward header that was clawed out by the right hand of Karen Bardsley.
Had that gone in, it might have been a different game altogether, but Adriana Leon had a shot from a half-cleared free-kick deflected wide by an offside Hendrix, before Alisha Lehmann had penalty claims waved away after going down in the box.
But City had two late sights of goal, with Jill Scott's drive blocked by a combination of Flaherty and Claire Rafferty, before Parris put her attempt over the bar, when Hendrix had inadvertently toed a cross into her path.
And they had the first opportunity of the second period, but Weir ballooned her shot over the bar having been teed up by Scott.
Ross played Lehmann into the channel on the right at the other end, but her cross drifted beyond Leon in the box, before Keira Walsh dragged a shot from the edge of the box wide of Moorhouse's right-hand post after being set up by Stanway.
But it was a sighter for Walsh, who took a short pass some 25 yards out moments later, stepped past Kate Longhurst and sent a swerving, dipping shot goalwards, which deceived Moorhouse, who could not keep it out of her net.
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Moorhouse pushed out a speculative effort, before Weir went down under the challenge of Simon and had penalty claims ignored, although TV replays appeared to suggest she might have had a case.
Beard sent American midfielder Brianna Visalli on for Rafferty on the hour mark, shuffling his formation as a result, as Percival dropped to right-back and Simon switched flanks to the left.
And Ross made way for Leanne Kiernan moments later, as West Ham looked to use the young Irishwoman's pace in attack.
But after Leon's dangerous ball in from the right was headed clear by Houghton, Parris curled a left-footed shot beyond the far post for City on the counter.
Flaherty's underhit pass to Moorhouse almost gifted Stanway a second, but the Hammers captain – a seven-time FA Cup winner – recovered well to avert the danger.
And Moorhouse produced a good save to push a shot from Parris behind in the 69th minute, after a good run in behind Hendrix by the England striker.
The game was really opening up now and Kiernan raced upfield on a counter-attack and passed to Lehmann, whose shot was well held by Bardsley as the West Ham fans behind the goal willed the ball to find the net.
But Moorhouse kicked out a shot from Weir and Stanway sent a header from Tessa Wullaert's cross past the far post as City pushed for a decisive second.
And they got it with nine minutes left as Stanway took a pass from the left, made space for herself and saw a shot deflect off Hendrix and find the bottom corner.
Stanway nearly made it 3-0 a minute later, twisting past Flaherty and forcing Moorhouse to save at her near post. But that would have been very harsh on the Hammers, who more than played their part in a good final.
Flaherty headed over from Leon's right-wing cross as the search for a reply continued throughout the closing minutes, before a long ball upfield found City substitute Lauren Hemp, who steered a shot past the onrushing Moorhouse and into the vacant net.
Visalli sent a looping header just over in the last minute of normal time, before Hemp fired against a post and put the rebound over the target.
West Ham: Moorhouse, Percival, Simon (Kmita 88), Hendrix, Flaherty, Lehmann, Ross (Kiernan 64), Rafferty (Visalli 60), Longhurst, Leon, So-hyun.
Unused subs: Spencer, Kiernan, Sampson, Reichardt.
Man City: Bardsley, Stokes, Beattie, Houghton, Scott, Stanway, Parris (Hemp 82), Weir (Emslie 85), McManus, Walsh, Wullaert.
Unused subs: Roebuck, Bonner, Bremer, Beckie, Campbell.
Referee: Abigail Byrne (Suffolk).