By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) – Manchester City completed a domestic double by comfortably beating West Ham United 3-0 in the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, following on from their League Cup triumph in February.
City, who missed out on winning the Super League which was clinched by Arsenal last week, made up for that disappointment with a commanding performance and three-second half goals against a valiant West Ham side playing in their first final.
In the fifth Women’s FA Cup final to be played at Wembley, the attendance total of 43,264 was not quite enough to surpass last season’s record crowd of 45,423 for a domestic-competition female soccer match.
Nick Cushing’s City side started the brighter of the two teams, with England forward Nikita Parris stretching the West Ham backline with her darting runs, though without finding a clearcut chance.
However, West Ham, playing their maiden season as a professional team and very much the underdogs given the gulf in resources, grew into the contest and even could have taken the lead at the half hour mark.
A flowing move ended with a deep cross into the box and Jane Ross was perfectly placed to head the ball in, but she was denied by England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley who dove across and pushed it wide.
City took the warning sign and came out more fired up in the second half. They broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute when Keira Walsh let fly from long range, with a wicked movement on the ball wrong-footing Anna Moorhouse in the West Ham goal.
The effort was City’s first shot on target but it proved enough to unsettle Matt Beard’s side.
West Ham regained some composure but were breached again in the 81st minute when young forward Georgia Stanway dribbled into the box and unleashed a right-footed shot at goal. The ball trickled past Moorhouse following a slight deflection off a defender.
With little more than a minute of normal time remaining, Lauren Hemp ran onto a long ball and expertly lifted the ball over the on-rushing Moorhouse from outside the area to seal the win and give City their second FA Cup in three years.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)