Chelsea needed extra-time to win 2-1 and preserve their SSE Women’s FA Cup winning streak of nearly two years, as Fran Kirby dumped Manchester City out at the death.
Both sides spent the early exchanges looking to starve the opposition’s star forward of service. Eniola Aluko worked hard in front of three attacking midfielders, while Toni Duggan, playing wide left, was battling Hannah Blundell.
The best chances of the goalless first half fell to defenders as a result. Abi McManus guided her 20-yarder wide, while Blundell’s half-volley at the other end bounced past Karen Bardsley.
Chelsea 2-1 Man City
SSE Women's FA Cup
Sunday 17 April
Staines Town FC
The best effort of the half was through Steph Houghton. She curled a free-kick towards the top corner but Hedvig Lindahl beat the effort away brilliantly.
Chelsea tried to exploit the City full-backs more after the restart with but it was the visitors who got the breakthrough when a goalmouth scrap from a corner was bundled home by Jane Ross.
Chelsea seemed a step off the pace, but a late free-kick was placed perfectly by Ji So-Yun and forced extra-time.
The hosts then reshuffled their side and Fran Kirby’s energy gave them the advantage. Her link-up play with Aluko immediately forced Bardsley into a sharp save low to her right.
Chelsea were well in the ascendency with Gemma Davison’s low drive just passing by Bardsley’s far post, although Jill Scott almost won it late with a header.
FATV Highlights: Chelsea Ladies 2-1 Manchester City Women
But with penalties looming, Kirby’s determination settled it. She composed herself to round the defence and slammed the ball past Bardsley in the final minute.
This year’s Final takes place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 14 May and thanks to The FA's partnership with SSE, all children will be able to attend for free.
Adult tickets are priced £15 and group bookings and charter standard discounts are also available.
Tickets for The Final are on sale now via www.TheFA.com/Tickets or by calling 0844 826 2010.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Hedvig Lindahl; Hannah Blundell, Millie Bright, Gilly Flaherty, Claire Rafferty; Jade Bailey, Katie Chapman; Gemma Davison, Ji So-Yun, Karen Carney; Eniola Aluko.
Substitutes: Drew Spence for Bailey 54, Fran Kirby for Carney 76, Bethany England for Rafferty 83.
Substitutes not used: Rebecca Spencer, Ana Borges.
Goals: Ji 86, Kirby 119
Bookings: Chapman, Carney
Manchester City (4-3-3): Karen Bardsley; Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Abi McManus, Demi Stokes; Jill Scott, Daphne Corboz, Kosovare Asllani; Nikita Parris, Jane Ross, Toni Duggan.
Substitutes: Georgia Stanway for Duggan 87, Jennifer Beattie for Corboz 91.
Substitutes not used: Marie Hourihan, Zoe Tynan, Alethea Paul.
Goal: Ross 73
Referee: Sam Purkiss