The Vitality Women's FA Cup

Chelsea's Sam Kerr & Fran Kirby 'out of this world' in Vitality Women's FA Cup Final

Sunday 05 Dec 2021
Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby celebrate Chelsea's second goal

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes described Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr as ‘out of this world’ after the forwards helped the Blues complete the domestic treble with today’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup Final.

Hayes stated today’s performance was Kirby’s best of her career so far as the England star opened the scoring in front of 40,942 fans at Wembley Stadium connected by EE and also set up her side’s second goal.

The Player of the Match award went to her strike partner Kerr though, as the Australian scored twice, with the second being a moment of pure brilliance.

Today’s Vitality Women’s FA Cup Final, whilst taking place midway through the 2021/22 campaign, was actually the 2020/21 decider and victory for the Blues meant they completed the domestic treble, following their Barclays’ FA Women’s Super League and FA Women's Continental League Cup success earlier this year.

Hayes said: "I thought we got it spot-on. We predicted what they were going to do and they did what we thought they were going to do.

"We’ve painted Wembley blue, it’s certainly a Chelsea day today and our performance was absolutely superb.

"The front two were out of this world. I said to Fran it was the best game I’ve ever seen her play for Chelsea and Sam’s confidence is growing. But everybody played their part, did the job we asked them to do and we thoroughly deserved to be winners.

"To think we are treble winners, it is an amazing achievement – you can’t ask for any more from the players and I am extremely proud of them, the staff and the club. 

“We have built this team over a long period of time and today I think we showed why we are champions.

“[There will be] zero chance of celebration. The bus is leaving from here and they are going home - they know the deal, we need to win [against Juventus on] Wednesday!”

Chelsea had the dream start when Kirby was put through after less than three minutes and she drilled the ball into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.

The Blues were dominant in the first half and could have had a penalty in the 19th minute when Kerr was brought down by Jen Beattie, but the referee seemed to play advantage and Manuela Zinsberger saved Kirby’s effort.

Chelsea’s pressing and energy was causing Arsenal constant problems and led to a number of errors from the Gunners.

Emma Hayes’ side could have gone into half-time with a three or four-goal lead, as Zinsberger saved well from Kirby’s 20-yard strike and Kerr also hit the crossbar from close range when one-on-one.

Arsenal finished the opening period strongly though and felt they should have had a penalty when Beth Mead’s run into the box hit the arm of the sliding Erin Cuthbert.

But in truth Arsenal were fortunate to go into the break only one goal behind and Chelsea’s second did finally arrive 12 minutes after the restart when Kerr raced on to a ball down the line and after cutting inside, slotted the ball through Lotte Wubben-Moy’s legs and past Zinsberger at her near post.

As is often the case for club and country, Kirby was a standout performer and almost scored her second when she struck the post with a fine strike from 20 yards out.

But the third goal ended up coming from another of the Blues’ world-class forwards. Kerr was put in on the right-hand side and she produced a sublime lob whilst still on the run to leave Zinsberger stranded.

Kirby said: “It feels amazing, it was everything that we could have asked for coming into the game.

“Everyone was so calm before the game, we approached it like it was any other game and you could see that in our first-half performance especially, and I’m really, really happy with the end result of course.

“It helped a lot [to score early on], it settled our nerves a lot going into the game. We didn’t expect to blow them away as much as we did in the first half. They had a little bit of momentum as well but we were more disappointed going in at only 1-0 as we could have had a few more goals if we had taken our chances. 

“But overall, we are really happy. We’ve painted Wembley blue so that’s the most amazing thing.

“It’s amazing. For me, winning trophies is what I came to this club to do and what I wanted to help this club do. 

"So, to win another one today is so special, for me all the winning is on the same level, it doesn’t matter what I’m winning, I have the same end result and that’s to win.

“You can’t describe how the emotions feel in that moment [to lift the trophy]. Adrenaline gets you through a lot. I came over limping during the game, but I knew I had to keep going for the next few minutes to allow us to get warm. I think our celebrations are going to be a bit interesting on the bus on the way back now."

Today was a day of celebration and reflection for women’s football.

It is 100 years to the day since The Football Association banned the women’s game from being played in their stadiums, claiming the sport was ‘unsuitable for females’.

It took almost 50 years for the ban to be lifted and today was seen as an opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Women’s FA Cup in 1971, when Southampton defeated Stewarton Thistle 4-1.

That day the game was hosted at Crystal Palace’s National Sports Ground and the two captains from the first Women’s FA Cup final, Southampton’s Lesley Lloyd and Elsie Cook of Stewarton Thistle, brought out the Vitality Women’s FA Cup trophy today ahead of the showpiece event at Wembley Stadium.

It was a moment which brought Cook and many of those watching on to tears, as the women’s game continues to go from strength to strength. 

Lead sponsor Vitality also paid tribute to the competition’s previous 28 victorious captains by displaying their names on the iconic steps that lead up to the Royal Box and many of those players - past and present - were in attendance today.

Kerr said: “I think we deserved it, I think we played really well. I think we’ve been playing really well the last few weeks.

“We kind of went in as underdogs so we had a point to prove and yeah, we are buzzing.

“The ball wouldn’t go in [during the first half] but we knew it was coming. It could have been 4-0 or 5-0 in the first half but they defended well. We knew that if we kept pushing at some point they would go in and they did. 

"I’m paid to score goals but our defence was amazing and it was a team effort – I can’t wait to party!”

When asked if she had a message for her friends and family back home in Australia, Kerr added: “I love you guys, I wish you could be here. These are the moments as a player that you play and wish your family were here, but they are probably all watching at home. 

“My girlfriend is here - that’s why I had to put on a show. But yeah, let’s go.”

By Frank Smith