One of the most illustrious players in Chelsea’s history, Ji So-yun, has marked the end of her career at Cobham by claiming one final Women’s FA Cup after Emma Hayes’ side edged Manchester City 3-2 under the arch.
It was a delicately-poised showdown at Wembley between the Women’s Super League champions and the Women’s League Cup holders, but the Londoners got the job done close to home, doing so emphatically after Erin Cuthbert netted a screamer and Sam Kerr bagged a brace.
Cuthbert looked to have won the match with a strike straight out of the top drawer on the hour mark, a thunderous effort that rattled off the crossbar and left Ellie Roebuck scrambling between the sticks, but Hayley Raso equalised late on to take the game beyond regulation time.
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It was a second half that mimicked the opening 45 minutes. Kerr, ever potent in the box, broke the deadlock half an hour into the final after nodding home a close-ranged header, but Lauren Hemp would restore parity 10 minutes later, taking a stalemate into the interval.
A drama-fuelled second half with Cuthbert and Raso finding the back of the net then took the game to extra-time. And it would be Kerr who ultimately decided the contest after a mistimed touch from Alanna Kennedy sent the Aussie racing through on goal.
The 28-year-old had Jessie Fleming flanking her, but she decided to go alone and duly capitalised on playing the soloist, slotting past Roebuck after a fortuitous deflection saw her strike tuck in at the near post. City pressed and probed towards the dying embers, but Chelsea held out.
⚽⚽ vs. Arsenal
⚽⚽ vs. Man City
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 15, 2022
It means Hayes has now won 11 major trophies since stepping in as Chelsea manager 10 years ago, adding a fourth Women’s FA Cup to her five Women’s Super League winners’ medals and two Women’s League Cups, further enhancing her reputation in west London.
But, of course, this showdown marked the end of an era at Kingsmeadow, with Ji concluding her Chelsea career having claimed one final major honour. The South Korean legend will leave the Blues this summer, but what a stage to bow out, under the arch, to a raucous reception, holding a trophy aloft.
The industrious midfielder first won the Women’s FA Cup in 2015, netting the only and winning goal against Notts County Ladies, which was actually the first final in the competition’s history to be held at Wembley. Seven years later, it is a fitting venue for Ji to wave goodbye.
“She is one of the best midfielders in the world and our fans will love her,” Hayes waxed lyrical of Ji in 2014 upon signing the 131-capped South Korean. And well, she has certainly lived up to Hayes’ assessment in both departments.
She leaves as one of the best, and my word do the fans love her.
“Ji is obviously class on the field but she’s a character off the pitch too that we’ll definitely miss,” Kerr recently commented, while Hayes said that Ji has been “an honour to coach”, further adding: “We’ve been through things together in their lives, on the pitch and off the pitch. Those three are driving standards all week because they understand what Chelsea is.
“Even on the way out they want to leave as champions. I know Ji leaves with a huge stamp on everybody’s heart. I will miss her terribly.”