Manchester City reached their second Continental Cup Final in three years thanks to a 1-0 win at home to Arsenal.
There was a minutes applaud at the start of the game emotionally instigated by the City players. The game started slowly with both sides cancelling each other out with neither side wishing to concede to the other. The first chance came after just five minutes as Toni Duggan dragged a low effort wide of the post from the edge of the penalty area.
On 17 minutes Jane Ross went close from a corner as she reached a Jill Scott knock down but her flick on was deflected wide. Arsenal grew into the game and on 22 minutes Asisat Oshoala outpaced Houghton and into the box but Marie Hourihan was quick to pounce on the ball. Two minutes later Oshoala went close as she lifted her shot over Hourihan but it was wide of the post.
Arsenal began to dominate and on the half hour should have lead when a cross fell into the box but Danielle Van De Donk fired a rising ball over the bar. A minute later Hourihan could only push a whipped in Arsenal corner up in the air but the loose ball flashed over the bar with the rebound.
Arsenal might have had a penalty a minute before half time when Oshoala burst into the box, collided with Houghton and with her teammates screaming for a penalty calmly got up but dragged her shot wide at the near post. At the other end Nikita Parris burst down the right hand side but with three City players unmarked in the middle delayed her cross and it was deflected clear for a corner to ensure the two sides would go into half time 0-0.
The second half was five minutes old when a superb cross from the right by Dominique Jansson found Danielle Carter unmarked at the far post but she fired over the bar from six yards out. City responded and three minutes later a superb cross from Toni Duggan found Houghton at the far post but she volleyed over a difficult chance. Carter continued to threaten for Arsenal as she weaved her into the penalty on the left but she was denied by a superb block from Lucy Bronze at the near post. Houghton was called into action again as a diving block forced a low Jansson cross over the bar from point blank range.
With 15 minutes remaining Oshoala had Arsenal’s big chance as she burst through one-on-one but Hourihan made a good block but the rebound fell to Carter and she blazer over with the goal at her mercy. Four minutes later Carter went close again as she cannoned a shot of the crossbar from the edge of the area. The miss would prove costly Parris won a free kick on the right after she was hauled down by Casey Stoney; the free kick was taken by Duggan whose cross was inadvertently deflected by Stoney and Jenny Beattie pounced to fire under Emma Byrne to give City the lead.
Arsenal went in search of a leveller as City dropped deeper and deeper and they almost found one with five minutes remaining as Kelly Smith turned in the six yard box and her shot squeezed under Hourihan only for Houghton to poke it off the line.
Six minutes of stoppage time produced further Arsenal pressure as Vicky Losada curled in a superb free kick which somehow Oshoala failed to reach the end of. However City were able to hang on amidst emotional scenes at the final whistle following an emotional tolling week for the players.
City will host Birmingham City in the final at the Academy Stadium on Sunday 2nd October.
Manchester City captain Steph Houghton said after the game: “This is special for us because the Continental Cup final was the first trophy we won, it’s the only trophy we’ve ever won and that makes it extra special.”
“We had to be professional and that emotion and adrenaline got us through to the final and we’re thankful for that.”
Arsenal’s Alex Scott was left to rue their missed chances: “On reflection we had most of the chances and we should have been putting them away. We should have come away with the win but they came away with a set-piece but apart from that we weren’t really threatened.”
“I was proud of the girls today, that’s as solid as we’ve been all season but a ricochet on a set-piece falls right to Jen and that’s that, it’s in the back of the net.”
Player of the Match: Asisat Oshoala (Arsenal)