Women's Continental League Cup final: Arsenal 0-0 Manchester City (2-4 pens)

By Tom GarryBBC Sport at Bramall Lane
Manchester City celebrate victory over Arsenal
Karen Bardsley holds the trophy after her shootout saves helped Manchester City win the final

Manchester City won the Women's League Cup for a third time, beating Arsenal 4-2 on penalties at Bramall Lane.

Janine Beckie's calm spot-kick ultimately settled a tense shootout, after two Karen Bardsley saves.

It was a deserved reward for City, who created the better chances over 120 goalless minutes.

Nikita Parris and Beckie hit the bar in the second period of normal time, after Steph Houghton was denied by a good save at the end of a quiet first half.

The eventual result was the reverse of last year's final, which the Gunners had won 1-0, as these two sides continued their dominance of the competition since in began in 2011.

England keeper Bardsley saved from Arsenal's Leah Williamson and Danielle van de Donk in the shootout, after City's 18-year-old substitute Lauren Hemp had seen her spot-kick palmed away, but all their other penalties were scored in front of 2,424 spectators in Sheffield.

Arsenal - who have won the cup five times since 2011 - were missing numerous senior players because of injuries and were not at their fluid best.

Top scorer Vivianne Miedema was understood to be suffering from fatigue and only named among the substitutes as a precaution, and they missed the Netherlands international's towering presence, classy movement and hold-up play up front early on.

After she came on as a second-half substitute, Joe Montemurro's side posed a greater threat, but they were unable to break down a City side who have still not lost a domestic game since last May's league loss to Arsenal.

The London club were fortunate to take the game to extra time as City repeatedly went close in the second half.

First, England's Parris flicked a header on to the bar from a set-piece, before Caroline Weir angled a low shot narrowly wide and then Canadian Beckie - on as a substitues - fired a fierce effort on to the angle of post and crossbar.

Earlier, the best chance of an otherwise quiet first half came right at the end of it, as Arsenal stopper Sari van Veenendaal produced a good save from England skipper Houghton's powerful downward header and City defender Gemma Bonner could not quite divert the rebound inside the post.

City's impressive run now stretches to 28 league and cup games without loss, and Nick Cushing's squad can still complete a domestic treble if they progress in the Women's FA Cup and remain top of the Women's Super League.

In the league, Arsenal are two points behind City but the Gunners have two games in hand.

Manchester City manager Nick Cushing told BBC Sport:

"I was starting to think it was going to be one that got away. We just didn't put the ball away. But the mentality of the group today and their application was excellent.

"I expected it to be cagey because I expected them to come out and press us. I read a lot of their media beforehand. But I thought the girls sorted it out really well, with that tactical understanding of how to get momentum in the game. They did that incredibly today.

"It's been a squad effort and to win the first trophy available, after not winning anything last year, shows the strength and the character of the group."

Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro:

"In the end, let's be honest, Manchester City created the chances.

"We played in a little bit of an un-Arsenal way. We had to use the resources that were available to us, but we found an Arsenal with a big heart and a massive backbone.

"Viv [Miedema] didn't recover entirely from the game on Wednesday night. She was still feeling some fatigue and there were some areas which we felt that, if she went through the whole 90 minutes, we could put her at risk. We had to make a decision."


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