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Arsenal end trophy wait with victory over Chelsea in Continental Cup final

Arsenal players celebrate their third goal against Chelsea (Zac Goodwin/PA). (PA Wire)
Arsenal players celebrate their third goal against Chelsea (Zac Goodwin/PA). (PA Wire)

Arsenal came from behind to end a near four-year wait for a trophy with a deserved 3-1 victory over Chelsea in the Continental Cup final at Selhurst Park.

England boss Sarina Wiegman, Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham and Blues co-owner Todd Boehly were among the Women’s League Cup record 19,010 in attendance at the Premier League venue, beating last season’s 8,000 total at AFC Wimbledon.

Sam Kerr netted the opener inside the first two minutes before Stina Blackstenius levelled and Arsenal captain Kim Little scored from the spot.

Niamh Charles’ own goal extended the Gunners advantage late in the first half, with Melanie Leupolz coming closest for the Blues when she rattled the crossbar after the break.

Arsenal were chasing their first silverware since winning the Women’s Super League title in 2018/19, while Chelsea were hoping to lift the Conti Cup for the third time.

Chelsea took the lead when Erin Cuthbert crossed to Guro Reiten, whose pinpoint delivery from the left of the area found Kerr at the far post.

The Australia international duly connected, her nodded effort catching the underside of the woodwork before crossing the line for the opener.

Manuela Zinsberger saved a second Kerr header before Arsenal worked their way back up the pitch, their breakthrough finally coming when Frida Maanum collected the ball in midfield and went on a composed run toward the Chelsea goal.

Her cross into the area took a deflection off Blues captain Magdalena Eriksson and the ball landed squarely in the path of Blackstenius, who fired a low strike into the bottom left after 16 minutes.

Eight minutes later the the Gunners were in front. Katie McCabe was brought down inside the area by a clumsy tackle from Sophie Ingle and referee Kirsty Dowle immediately pointed to the spot.

Skipper Little stepped up, making no mistake as she sent Ann-Katrin Berger the wrong way with a low effort into the bottom left corner.

Blackstenius nearly made it three when she just missed getting her head on the ball at the near post, while it took a considerable effort from Rafaelle Souza to chase down Kerr – flanked by two red shirts – to mitigate the threat posed by the pacey Blues striker.

The two teams were dealt a scare when McCabe drove into the area and collided with Berger as she was came out to collect a lofted ball. Both players remained on the pitch to receive medical attention but were eventually deemed fit to continue.

The delay, however, added what proved to be a critical four minutes of added time, with Steph Catley floating a corner into the six-yard box, where the unfortunate Charles directed the ball into her own net with the final touch of the first half.

Cuthbert pushed to narrow the gap after the restart, directing an effort just wide of a post, while substitute Victoria Pelova almost made an instant impact when she forced Berger into a good save with a powerful low strike

Leupolz was inches away from clawing one back when she rattled the crossbar, but some fine work from Zinsberger during a late Chelsea surge saw Arsenal home.