Sam Kerr’s header helped Chelsea defeat Aston Villa 1-0 and progress to a third straight Vitality Women’s FA Cup Final.
After a goalless first period in which both teams missed good chances, the Australian’s header 15 minutes into the second half proved enough to fire Emma Hayes’ side into next month’s Final at Wembley.
The Blues will now face Manchester United in the Final in four weeks’ time, looking for a third straight triumph after victories in 2021 and 2022.
Both sides saw plenty of the ball early on but in the opening half-hour Chelsea were the more proactive and created a handful of good chances.
Lauren James had perhaps the first clear-cut chance after 17 minutes, blazing over from Guro Reiten’s corner.
And after Kerr’s stabbed effort was easily collected by Hannah Hampton, James perhaps had the chance of the half with a low effort from 20 yards that glanced narrowly wide.
Villa eventually worked their way into the contest, and their first real opportunity came when Kirsty Hanson blasted over in the 34th minute.
And just moments later Rachel Daly nearly produced something from a dangerous ball into the six-yard box, only for some strong defending from Magdalena Eriksson to force a corner.
Lucy Staniforth also came close with two minutes of the half left, producing a long-range effort that forced a strong stop from Zecira Musovic.
Chelsea were nearly ahead just 16 seconds into the second half, Jelena Cankovic’s sweetly-struck volley rattling the bar, though Villa themselves missed a golden chance when Alisha Lehmann hit the side netting from six yards out.
That miss proved costly, as just moments later Kerr lept above the Villa defence and headed home from Reiten’s cross to put the reigning champions a goal up on the hour mark.
In the ten minutes after Kerr’s goal Villa looked dangerous in their quest for an equaliser, though much like the opening stages of the match they could not turn possession into clear opportunities.
But Lehmann missed another good opportunity, the Swiss failing to hit the target with a low effort that went wide of the far post.
Within a minute of each other, Daly and Kenza Dali both spurned chances for Villa, while Sarah Mayling’s bobbling effort came off the post.
But the hosts could not find a leveller, and Chelsea held on to reach the Final.