Chelsea manager Emma Hayes labelled her team’s Women’s FA Cup semi-final win over Aston Villa an ‘ugly game’, booking a place in the final against Manchester United at Wembley next month.
Sam Kerr, who had been quiet for an hour, scored the only goal of the game for Chelsea. The cup holders had other chances too, but so did a plucky Villa side that were left deflated and gutted when the final whistle sounded at the Bescot Stadium.
“Difficult pitch, ugly game. What I expected,” Hayes told BBC One afterwards.
Villa upped their tempo and intensity once Kerr had broken the deadlock, with on-loan winger Kirsty Hanson driving the late pressure in particular. Full-back Sarah Mayling even struck the post.
“We took the goal when we were on top, and then we dropped off and Villa made it a brilliant cup tie. Of course, [we’re] delighted to be in the final,” Haye reflected.
“The pitch made it really, really challenging for the players to get a grip. There’s not a lot of grass in that penalty box. For that reason, it made it tricky. Nonetheless, we took the goal at the right moment.”
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For Chelsea, the cup tie was a ninth game in three different competitions since 5 March – a period of just six weeks. That has also included an international break with players in action across the world.
But they remain alive in all three competitions, with the opportunity to complete a WSL, FA Cup and Champions League treble for the first time.
“You have the chance to play in the FA Cup final at Wembley, what more motivation do you need? This is what we all dream about, it’s what we work hard for. I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to defend our title,” Hayes added.
Should Chelsea beat Manchester United at Wembley, it would be a third successive FA Cup for the Blues, matching Southampton Women’s run from the early 1970s and putting them only one behind Arsenal’s four in a row from 2005/06 to 2008/09.