Arsenal's FA Cup hopes shattered by semi-final loss to holders Chelsea

Arsenal's Beth Mead rues a missed chance during their Vitality Women's FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea

Arsenal's Beth Mead rues a missed chance during their Vitality Women's FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea - Credit: PA

Arsenal’s hopes of winning the FA Cup for a record 15th time ended after losing 2-0 to London rivals Chelsea at Meadow Park on Sunday.

Second-half goals from Guro Reiten and Ji So-yun ensured Chelsea advanced into the Wembley showpiece next month.

The Gunners began well ,with Steph Catley getting the ball down the left before swinging in a dangerous cross aiming for Vivianne Miedema, but Aniek Nouwen clipped the danger away. 

Beth Mead worked her way into a promising position a minute later, getting to the edge of the box, but Millie Bright came across to make a strong tackle before she could whip an effort in at goal.

On 13 minutes Jonas Eidevall’s troops had a massive opening via Stina Blackstenius, who drove into the area before lifting her head and attempting to pick out Miedema, but Bright was quick to make a vital interception and clear.

Miedema was lively in the opening stages and picked the ball up outside the box as Chelsea backed off her, but she planted her effort over the top of the bar.

Chelsea’s first effort on target arrived on 25 minutes via Beth England who had a pop from outside the area that swerved in the air, but Manuela Zinsberger was behind it to make the save.

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The visitors grew into the game with Zinsberger making another save, this time down low from Niamh Charles as she wriggled free from the challenges before getting a shot in on goal. 

Eidevall’s side carved out another good opening on 43 minutes when Mead picked out Kim Little, whose low cross aiming for the centre of the box was well cut out by Charles.

On the stroke of half-time Chelsea had a glorious opportunity to take the lead when Leah Williamson played a poor ball out to England who tried to play in Sam Kerr, but Williamson redeemed herself getting back to make the clearance.

Mead was booked a minute into the second half as she went in on Jess Carter with a high challenge and two minutes later the English international had a huge opening to break the deadlock, when she was played in, but fired wide from close range.

Arsenal were made to rue that miss as Chelsea instantly broke forward and took the lead, with Reiten picking the ball up 30 yards from goal before driving forward and unleashing an unstoppable strike into the top corner.

Eidevall was clearly frustrated with his defence, as they didn’t close the Norwegian international down quickly enough and it could have been worse for the hosts when Erin Cuthbert sliced a low effort a matter of moments later.

Chelsea took full control of the contest, with England holding off Lotte Wubben-Moy on 58 minutes and fizzing in a low shot that Zinsberger pushed around the post.

And they doubled their lead three minutes later when Arsenal got themselves into a defensive mess as Wubben-Moy shanked a clearance and the ball deflected off Kerr and fell into the path of Ji who cracked her strike into the top corner via the crossbar.

That forced Eidevall into a change as he took off Lia Walti and replaced her with Frida Maanum for the final half hour.

Zinsberger came to the rescue yet again as Ji played a good ball into Reiten on the edge of the area who let fly, forcing the keeper to get down quickly and palm the ball away.

Wubben-Moy was then caught in possession when she tried to dribble out of her own area, losing the ball to England who flicked it into the path of Sophie Ingle whose effort was pushed out to Ji who slotted wide.

Blackstenius and Caitlin Foord came off to be replaced by Tobin Heath and Nikita Parris on 71 minutes and Arsenal, who struggled to create anything of note in the second half, had an opportunity to pull one back with 10 minutes to go when Miedema had a low shot blocked by Nouwen.

Emma Hayes' troops nearly had a third when Nouwen played a beautiful ball into the path of England who flashed a shot just over the crossbar when it looked like Zinsberger was beaten.

Then Arsenal had the final opening when Mead whipped in a cross for Parris who headed wide from a tight angle at the back post.

Chelsea’s win sets up a final against Manchester City, who beat the Blues 3-1 in the Continental League Cup final last month.

Arsenal: Zinsberger, McCabe, Williamson, Wubben-Moy, Catley, Little, Walti (Maanum 64), Miedema, Mead, Blackstenius (Parris71), Foord (Heath 71). Unused subs: Beattie, Nobbs, Maritz, Williams, Iwabuchi, Wienroither.

Referee: Rebecca Welch.  

Attendance: 3,458.