Blackstenius fires Arsenal to Conti Cup Final win

Stina Blackstenius struck the winner in extra-time to see Arsenal defend their FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup with a 1-0 win over Chelsea.

In a repeat of last year’s final and in front of a record crowd of 21,462 at Molineux, neither side could find a goal in regulation time.

After a long stoppage as Frida Maanum received treatment for an off-the-ball injury, the Gunners regrouped before Blackstenius delivered the winning strike to see Arsenal claim silverware for a second successive season.

The width of the Molineux pitch was utilised by both teams with Lauren James proving a handful for the Arsenal defence as ever.

The young star saw a penalty appeal waved away early on having gone down under contact from Kim Little.

There was no Video Assistant Review for that instance but the technology made its debut to disallow what looked like the Chelsea opener.

Mayra Ramirez found the back of the net with a delightful strike from the edge of the D but the goal was chalked off on review after Erin Cuthbert was shown to have handled the ball in the build-up.

Nearly going behind fuelled Arsenal as Beth Mead took aim from distance but only found the roof of the net having dispossessed Kadeisha Buchanan.

Cloe Lacasse sent a shot on target but straight at Hannah Hampton having driven powerfully into the box.

Hampton was again called into action to tip a long-range effort from Katie McCabe over the bar before Lotte Wubben-Moy fired wide from the resulting corner.

The game became end-to-end as Sjoeke Nusken pounced on a ball left unattended by a slipping Little, she teed up Ramirez who then found James but Leah Williamson was there to block.

Arsenal then went on the attack but James followed the ball back into Chelsea’s half to make the interception.

The two teams continued to cancel each other out as the interval beckoned, Little first shutting down an attack from Cuthbert before Hampton came out to stop an advancing Mead.

After the break, Mead received the ball in the box but was unable to control it as Niamh Charles dispossessed the striker before building Chelsea’s next attack.

The England defender found Johanna Rytting Kaneryd down the wing with the Swede teeing up Melanie Leupolz but the midfielder could only fire over.

Lacasse’s last act before she made way for Caitlin Foord was to miss a one-on-one chance with Hampton delivering a fine save.

Down at the other end James saw a golden opportunity to score the winner in the 87th minute go begging as her shot was nudged behind by a sprawling Manu Zinsberger.

The game then took a difficult turn as Maanum went down off the ball and required lengthy treatment on the pitch. The Norwegian was later confirmed to be conscious and talking.

The two sides saw out the rest of injury time to send the game to an extra 30 minutes.

Neither team were willing to risk defeat in the first half of extra-time and the game looked destined to head to spot-kicks when Blackstenius fired well over from a great position.

The Swede more than made amends as she struck the winner in the 26th minute of extra-time.

She was found after brilliant build-up play by Foord and fired past a diving Hampton to secure back-to-back triumphs over their big rivals.

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