Spurs’ final dream ends in a heavy defeat

Manchester United Women Tottenham Hotspur Women – Adobe Women’s FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium – Report

Manchester United Women 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur Women 

Manchester United put aside the memory of last season’s 1-0 Women’s FA Cup Final defeat to Chelsea to cruise to a stylish and in truth brutally one-sided, 4-0 defeat of first-time finalists Tottenham Hotspur.  

Rachel Williams scores Manchester United’s second goal (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Ella Toone, with a stunning individual effort on the stroke of half-time, put the Reds firmly on their way before Rachel Williams and two goals by Lucia Garcia in the second half, clinched the first major women’s trophy in Manchester United’s history.       

With the players of both sides ‘taking the knee’ before the start, the match kicked off in bright sunshine in front of a sold-out Wembley crowd.  Tottenham broke straight from the start to move the ball through for Swede Matilda Vinberg to stride forward and fire high over Mary Earps’s crossbar from fifteen yards out.

From the restart, Toone and Leah Galton linked well to create a good opportunity with Becky Spencer, despite taking a heavy knock in the process, getting down bravely to deny Galton’s strike.

With just five minutes gone, Williams nodded just wide of the target from a corner and just seven minutes later, the thirty-six-year-old ex-Spurs veteran rose highest once more to head inches wide from yet another corner as United again went close to opening the scoring.

As the teams continued to press forward, the game flowed from end to end despite either being able to fashion a breakthrough.

Just on the half-hour mark, Millie Turner found Galton to lay the ball off to Williams – only for Luana Buhler to react quickly and clear the danger.

With the game looking to be heading in at the break goalless, a moment of sublime magic by Lioness Toone turned the game on its head, when after Spurs lost possession deep on the right-hand side, Lisa Naalsund drove powerfully forward from inside her own half to play the unmarked Toone through to drift past Evelina Summanen before picking her spot and looping the ball into the top right-hand corner from twenty yards out to make it 1-0.   

Just after the break, Katie Zelem’s free-kick found the ever-dangerous Williams – an FA Cup winner with Birmingham City in 2011/12 – at the far post to guide her header into the bottom right corner to make it 2-0 in the fifty-fourth minute before a horrendous goalkeeping error by Spencer three minutes later gifted the Reds their third of the afternoon after the Jamaican international – attempting to play the ball out from the back – passed straight to the feet of Garcia, giving the Spaniard the easiest of chances to tap home into the empty net. 

Spurs were unfortunate not to pull one back just after the hour mark when Amanda Nilden lost her marker to fire in a cross from the left-hand side – only for skipper Beth England’s header to rattle the crossbar before bouncing away to safety.

With their heads already down following the two quickfire second-half goals and now being outplayed at almost every turn, Spurs’ afternoon went from bad to worse when Melvine Malard found Turner to hold the ball up before laying it off for Garcia to lash home her second goal of the afternoon to make it 4-0.

Dejected Spurs goalkeeper Becky Spencer following the Lilywhites’ 4-0 cup final defeat to Manchester United (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Naalsund’s audacious twenty-five-yard shot that sailed high over Spencer’s crossbar was the effort of a player fully aware the game was long won as Manchester United played out time at the end with almost embarrassing ease to clinch their first major trophy since the club’s formation in 2018.

Reds boss Marc Skinner spoke to www.bbc.co.uk/sport following the game: “In all honesty, I felt that first half was just frustration because we didn’t score, I thought we offered more of a threat, we controlled most of their threat. As much as I am exhausted now it is a magical feeling. 

“Tooney scored one of those goals at Leicester, but it is another thing to do it at Wembley. I told her on the podium you have to feel it, remember it because it comes and goes too quick, and that is what she did. Congratulations to her and the team, we are FA Cup winners.

“We are obviously not where we want in the league right? But we are history-makers for Manchester United. I didn’t need to remind the owners of that, they know. There is a lot of support and love for our team and the growth.

“We want to compete for titles, but you all know how important adding that first piece of silverware is. We’ve got nothing but growth ahead.

“Credit to Tottenham, this is a big moment for their growth as well. They have been great all season. On the pitch, it is never easy against them, and we prepared for what they have got. We are ready and from start to finish today we thoroughly deserve our success.”

Spurs boss Robert Vilahamn also spoke to www.bbc.co.uk/sport after the match: “I am disappointed of course. We wanted to fight to the end and we didn’t fight to the end. We had a good first half, they scored a goal and the second half we couldn’t really battle with them. We are at Wembley, we’ve had a great season, so you need to look at it in two ways I would say.

“We tried when we came back in the second half, but they scored two goals quite quickly and we were trying to change things, but they were too good. They were really good.

“If you take away the feelings right now, you need to look at these players doing some incredible things this year. We are at Wembley playing in front of our fans and they are actually enjoying it and staying and supporting us after. We got a good experience today and we are learning how to play at Wembley more times. We need to look at it that way because the players are amazing.

“I think it is good there is a game coming up quite close because we want to play again and make sure we do better than today. A home game against Chelsea is a good game, so we are going to make sure we are competing in that game as well.”

Marc Skinner’s charges conclude their WSL season against Chelsea at Old Trafford next Sunday (3pm) whilst Spurs also play host to Chelsea at Brisbane Road on Wednesday (7:15pm) before bringing down the curtain on their campaign at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against West Ham on Sunday (3pm).

Manchester United celebrate their Adobe Women’s FA Cup final success over Spurs at Wembley Stadium (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Manchester United: Earps, Le Tissier, Blundell, Toone (Miyazawa 78’) Zelem (Capt) Galton (Malard 50’) Riviere (Mannion 78’) Naalsund, Garcia (Geyse 77’) Turner, Williams (Parris 58’) Subs not used: Tullis-Joyce, Guerrero, Ladd, Evans, Da Silva Ferreira

Tottenham Hotspur: Spencer, James-Turner, Nilden (Grant 68’) Naz (Bizet Ildhusoy 54’) England (Capt) Vinberg (Wang Shuang 54’) Thomas (Ayane 68’) Buhler, Spence, Summanen (Graham 68’) Neville Subs not used: Votikova, Bartrip, Petzelberger, Ahtinen

Referee: Abi Byrne

Assistants: Sophie Dennington and Nicoleta Bria

Fourth Official: Kirsty Dowle

Reserve Assistant Referee: Levi Gray

Attendance: 76,082