A hard-fought game was only fitting on the 50th anniversary of the Women's FA Cup Final. Manchester City were dominant in the early portions of the game, allowing little time for Everton to keep the ball or establish any rhythm.
The Toffees’ first breakthrough came in the 15th minute when Hayley Raso caught Steph Houghton in possession and drove at the net. Lucy Bronze had to make an errant challenge — for which she would be booked — to stop Raso from getting a shot away.
Even with City controlling possession for most of the first half, Everton had several chances to go ahead. Damaris Egurrola skied a shot over net, while Ingrid Moe Wold found Valérie Gauvin in the six for a header, but the Frenchwoman missed the target.
Despite several Everton chances, it was the brilliance and composure of Sandy MacIver in net that kept the score even. Twice MacIver helped keep the score at zero apiece, first with a save on former Evertonian Chloe Kelly, followed by a strong save on Sam Mewis.
With less than five minutes to go before the end of the first half, Caroline Weir made a driving run into Everton’s penalty area and won a corner. On the ensuing play, Alex Greenwood sent a spinning cross to Mewis, who clinically headed the ball past a frozen MacIver.
A deficit and a worrisome injury to Gauvin — who would later return to the game and play through what must have been intense pain for a majority of the second half — gave Everton two reasons for concern at the break.
Early in the second half, MacIver again flashed heroics, making a double-save, first on Ellen White, followed by a point-blank stop of fellow England international Kelly. Kelly’s expression was one saying: “What more do I need to do to score?”
With pressure mounting from City, Damaris found herself with space in the box on a corner kick and forced a one-handed save from Ellie Roebuck to keep Everton off the score sheet; Roebuck wouldn’t be able to keep the Toffees out for long, though. On the following corner, Izzy Christiansen sent a short ball into the box, where Gauvin turned away but still managed to score with the back of her head.
With the score tied, it was the insertion of Georgia Stanway into the game that saw ten minutes of City earning chance after chance after chance. Stanway started with a slicing effort that fizzed just wide. Three minutes later, in the 88th, Mewis saw a chance bend over the net, and Kelly followed suit a minute later. In the final two minutes of the contest, Weir had two chances, but soared a shot over the net and hit the crossbar.
For every chance City had, Everton managed to escape, even countering with a 95th minute Damaris header that scooted inches wide
At a stalemate after the full 90, the affair proceeded into extra time. City had several chances — none too threatening — in the first portion of extra time, while Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah managed a shot herself.
An overall even 15 minutes was punctured twice, first in a moment of miscommunication between MacIver and Danielle Turner that forced a display of super-defending from Megan Finnigan, followed by a MacIver fingertip save on Houghton that saw the ball glance off the post.
The second extra time was when the game tilted in City’s favor. In the 111th minute, Stanway fired a shot that was blocked by a diving Christiansen. The ball, however, traveled only as far as Bronze. Bronze found Jess Park on the wing, who drove centrally to find Stanway, who had made a run in between Everton’s defense. For all the moments that had gone Everton’s way to keep the ball out of the back of the net, Stanway’s effort proved the dagger; her shot nicked the inside of the post and ricocheted into the goal.
A last-minute free kick led to Everton pushing bodies forward, and when the play broke down, Janine Beckie found herself with a chance just inside the 18 to put the game to bed. Stanway feathered a pass to the Canadian international, who rolled the ball past MacIver, the final whistle sounding a score of City 3, Everton 1 around the grounds at Wembley.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Despite being injured for a majority of the second half, Gauvin still highlighted why she is one of the top strikers in the world. Even when she’s not looking at the ball, Gauvin finds a way to score. It was her no-look goal that evened the match for the Toffees, and she’s a large reason why Everton have such a strong goal record this season.
1. Sandy MacIver
MacIver made several game-altering saves today. She was quick off her line, strong in the air and confident whenever City looked threatening. A 3–1 scoreline certainly belies her efforts in this year’s final.
2. Valérie Gauvin
Everton’s most reliable goal-scorer, Gauvin made life difficult for Steph Houghton — one of the top defenders in the league — today. Gauvin can score whether she has acres of space or is forced to work with inches.
3. Danielle Turner
One of three Everton players in the squad to play in the 2014 Final, Turner was marvelous on the wing, spending a majority of the game containing Kelly, Lavelle and Park. An integral part of a sturdy Everton back four, Turner was the team’s rock against City.
Everton (4-2-3-1): 1-Sandy MacIver; 2-Ingrid Moe Wold, 3-Danielle Turner, 20-Megan Finnigan, 22-Rikke Sevecke; 12-Damaris Egurrola, 17-Lucy Graham (c); 8-Izzy Christiansen, 14-Nicoline Sørensen, 16-Hayley Raso; 19-Valérie Gauvin
Substitutes: 7-Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah for Raso 76, 15-Molly Pike for Graham 92, 10-Simone Magill for Gauvin 90, 30-Poppy Pattinson for Sevecke 90, 13-Abbey-Leigh Stringer for Damaris 98
Unused Substitutes: 21-Maéva Clemaron, 23-Tinja-Riikka Korpela, 26-Grace Clinton,
Goals: Gauvin 60
Bookings: Raso 40
Man City (4-3-3): 26-Ellie Roebuck; 3-Demi Stokes, 6-Steph Houghton (c), 20-Lucy Bronze, 27-Alex Greenwood; 19-Caroline Weir, 22-Sam Mewis, 24-Keira Walsh; 9-Chloe Kelly, 18-Ellen White, 21-Rose Lavelle
Substitutes: 10-Georgia Stanway for White 63, 16-Jess Park for Lavelle 70, 11-Janine Beckie for Kelly 118
Unused Substitutes: 1-Karen Bardsley 4-Gemma Bonner, 7-Laura Coombs, 8-Jill Scott, 14-Esme Morgan, 34-Karima Benameur Taieb
Goals: Mewis 40, Stanway 111, Beckie 122
Bookings: Bronze 35