Late extra-time goals from Georgia Stanway and Janine Beckie settled a terrific Women’s FA Cup final as Manchester City eventually overcame Everton at Wembley to lift the trophy for the third time.

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Substitute Stanway latched on to Jess Park’s clever through ball and slotted in off the post, when a penalty shootout had been looming, and Beckie calmly netted an ever later third.

United States midfielder Sam Mewis had deservedly nodded City in front from Alex Greenwood’s corner shortly before half-time, but France’s Valerie Gauvin headed level from Izzy Christiansen’s second-half corner as Everton fought back.

Played without any fans at Wembley amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions, the contest was the closest-fought the women’s final has seen since the fixture was first staged at the home of English football in 2015, as last season’s delayed competition came to a dramatic conclusion.

Taylor wants Man City to make history
Gareth Taylor’s City side could have settled it earlier in the game, as Scotland midfielder Caroline Weir struck the woodwork twice in the second half before England skipper Steph Houghton saw a header tipped on to the post in extra time.

That was one of a number of superb saves from Everton’s 22-year-old stopper Sandy MacIver, on a day when City’s 21-year-old England keeper Ellie Roebuck also impressed, adding to an entertaining spectacle.

The 50th Women’s Cup final had originally been scheduled for May but was delayed because of the pandemic and the cup resumed at the quarter-final stage in September, after the 2020-21 league season had already commenced.

Unbeaten in their first five games of that new Women’s Super League season, the Toffees arrived at Wembley in fine form, but it was still last season’s WSL runners-up City who were considered the pre-match favourites and they lived up to that tag with a strong opening 45 minutes.

But Everton, appearing in their first final since 2014 and trying to win their first cup since 2010, battled back strongly and the game was almost end-to-end at times in the final 20 minutes of normal time, before holders City edged clear in the latter stage of extra time to win the cup for the third time in four seasons.

‘Big three’ dominance continues
Sunday’s result continued City, Arsenal and Chelsea’s combined six-season-long dominance of the major domestic trophies in the English women’s game.

Not since Liverpool lifted the league title in 2014 has any club other than the modern-day ‘big three’ won the WSL, Women’s FA Cup or Continental League Cup.

City only turned professional in the build-up to the 2014 summer season but have won seven major honours since then, adding their third FA Cup to three League Cups and the 2016 league crown.

They were made to dig deep against a hard-working Everton side who will feel they could have taken the lead in the second half when France’s Gauvin glanced a header just wide.

However few could deny that City were worthy winners – they created the greater number of chances and twice went close in second-half stoppage time, with the game stretched.

Player of the Match – Sandy MacIver
On a day when both young English goalkeepers shined, Everton’s MacIver won the plaudits with a series of excellent saves, with arguably the best of the lot keeping out Houghton’s header.

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