October 3, 2016 by Blues Ladies
Battling Blues lose out in cup final after an extra time winner by Lucy Bronze gives Man City the double.
Blues went into the Continental Tyres cup final hoping it would be third time lucky having lost their previous two appearances in the final to Arsenal. It was always going to be an uphill battle though, Man City had a week earlier won the WSL1 title without being beaten all season so went into the game as the favourites. It was also a home match for Man City, although the noise which the travelling supporters made throughout the game you might have been mistaken for thinking it was the other way round.
Onto the game itself and Blues made 5 changes from the 2-1 win over Liverpool with Berger, Ewers, Hegerberg, Westwood and Sargeant coming in for Baggaley, Schroder, Peplow, Stringer and Haines. Blues started brightly in the opening minutes with Linnett getting a shot away from 30 yards which wasn’t far wide of the City goal. However from that moment forwards Man City really took control of the first half. The first real opportunity came when Beattie hit a low shot from 20 yards which forced Berger into making a good save diving to her right.
The biggest struggle for Blues was getting hold of the ball and keeping it, long balls forwards for Linnett and Ayisi often saw the forward pair outnumbered and crowded out and the ball just came straight back and although the Blues defence stood firm it did seem to be a matter of time before one of the many talented City forwards broke free and got an opportunity. It was Toni Duggan who managed to get away down the Blues right and cut in to get a strike at goal, only to be denied by Berger with a world class save ensuring that it was level at half time.
Blues came out in the second half and looked to get on the front foot. Ayisi found space on the edge of the area and got a shot off which drifted not too far wide of the post. Blues then found themselves appealing for a penalty, Westwood felt that the ball had been handled in the box but the ref waved play on.
The first real chance of the second half for City fell to substitute Aslanni who found herself 1 on 1 with Berger but it was the Blues keeper who prevailed gathering the ball and adding to the string of fine saves made in the match. At the end of 90 minutes the teams couldn’t be separated and extra time was required.
The goal came just before the end of the first period of extra time. A corner which Berger came for and didn’t reach was met by the head of Bronze and the ball dropped into the Blues net. Blues tried hard in search of an equaliser but there was some exhausted looking legs out on the pitch and ultimately Hourihan went untested in the City goal.
In the end it wasn’t quite enough for Blues but it was a performance which everyone connected to the club could be proud. The official player of the match award was given to Lucy Bronze but it could of gone to so many of the girls playing in red for the day and it wouldn’t in been undeserved. However it was perhaps Ann-Katrin Berger in green who was the stand out performer making countless saves keeping City out for 104 minutes.