Arsenal won their first Conti Cup since 2018 with a 3-1 win over WSL rivals Chelsea at a packed out Selhurst Park.
The Gunners came from behind to exact their revenge on the Blues, who knocked them out of the FA Cup just last week at Kingsmeadow.
The deadlock was broken after just 100 seconds. Arsenal failed to clear their lines after Chelsea applied some early pressure, and a deep cross from Guro Reiten was nodded over the line by Sam Kerr – her ninth goal in five finals for the Blues.
That same combination nearly saw Chelsea add a second soon after, though this time Kerr’s header fell straight into the gloves of a grateful Manuela Zinsberger.
At the other end, Millie Bright deflected teasing Arsenal crosses behind at the near post three times in as many minutes as the Gunners looked to find a leveller.
And Arsenal found an equaliser on the 16-minute mark through Stina Blackstenius. A speculative effort from Frida Maanum deflected kindly off of Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson and kindly into the path of the her Sweden teammate, whose first-time strike from 12 yards beat Ann-Katrin Berger.
Soon after, Arsenal were awarded a penalty when Sophie Ingle tripped Katie McCabe. Kim Little stepped up and sent Berger the wrong way to put the Gunners ahead.
Chelsea were quaking and nearly conceded a third when Steph Catley’s high improvised cross was nodded on by Blackstenius, but she was denied this time by Berger.
Just after the half-hour mark, Arsenal had the ball in the net again after Catley again picked out Blackstenius with a superb whipped ball, directing it into the far-hand corner, only to be denied by a late offside flag.
Emma Hayes couldn’t bear to see her side struggle for much longer and threw on another defender in Kadeisha Buchanan for midfielder Jelena Cankovic before the end of the first half.
But that didn’t stop Arsenal extending their lead, with Rafaelle rising to head a Catley corner in off of Niamh Charles in stoppage time.
Just after the break, Erin Cuthbert snuck into the box and nearly guided in a Reiten cross with an instinctive volley, but the ball bounced narrowly wide instead.
Kerr was so nearly set racing away against Zinsberger by Lauren James, but she was denied by a last-ditch challenge by Rafaelle.
That duo linked up again moments later, with Kerr this time the provider and James dragging a shot just over the bar.
Substitute Victoria Pelova nearly notched Arsenal’s fourth with her first touch, but Berger got down low to keep out her half-volley.
The Gunners were incensed that they weren’t awarded a penalty when Buchanan clearly fouled Caitlin Foord, instead receiving a corner.
For the first time in the second half, Zinsberger came to Arsenal’s rescue when she flew across her line to palm away a wicked half-volley from Melanie Leupolz.
The Germany saw a cross bounce back off the upright late on, with Zinsberger scrambling to ensure it didn’t drop back into the net.
Arsenal’s record sixth Conti Cup was sealed following five minutes of stoppage time, with Jonas Eidevall securing his first piece of silverware at the club.
GK: Manuela Zinsberger – 6/10 – Can’t really blame the Austrian too much for the opener. Stood tall for much of the match.
RB: Noelle Maritz – 5/10 – Found it hard trying to pin down Reiten.
CB: Leah Williamson – 7/10 – Failed to hold the line in the opening 100 seconds but from then on was nearly flawless.
CB: Rafaelle – 8/10 – Lost the run of Kerr for the opener but made amends with a huge header at the end of the first half.
LB: Steph Catley – 8/10 – A consistent thorn in Chelsea’s side, popping up all over the pitch to create chaos.
CM: Lia Waltl – 6/10 – Not involved as much as her midfield co-stars but she did enough in that battle.
CM: Frida Maanum – 7/10 – Managed to work the ball into dangerous areas.
CM: Kim Little – 9/10 – Typically glided her way through challenges and helped carve out big chances. The best player on the pitch.
RW: Caitlin Foord – 7/10 – Held the ball up well when drifting inside to support Blackstenius.
CF: Stina Blackstenius – 8/10 – Made life extremely difficult for compatriot Eriksson. A constant penalty-box menace and was good value for her goal.
LW: Katie McCabe – 8/10 – Like Catley had the freedom to go inside or out down the left, with Chelsea failing to find an answer besides fouling to stop her.
Victoria Pelova (57′ for McCabe) – 6/10
Laura Wienroither (70′ for Maritz) – 6/10
Jen Beattie (87′ for Blackstenius) – N/A
Jonas Eidevall – 8/10 – Arsenal went behind in under two minutes were pinned back for the following ten, but showed great resilience to come back and win the cup.
GK: Ann-Katrin Berger – 5/10 – Made some decent saves but equally some glaring errors.
RB: Eve Perisset – 5/10 – Turned inside-out by McCabe. Easy trap to fall into, to be fair.
CB: Millie Bright – 7/10 – Chelsea’s most reliable presence at the back when others were sent into a tailspin by Arsenal’s pressure.
CB: Magdalena Eriksson – 5/10 – Admittedly unfortunate with the way the ball deflected off her for Blackstenius’ equaliser but she didn’t inspire confidence regardless.
LB: Niamh Charles – 4/10 – Scored an own goal before being hooked at the break. Brutal.
CM: Erin Cuthbert – 6/10 – Chelsea’s best hopes of winning the midfield battle came through Cuthbert.
CM: Sophie Ingle – 4/10 – Gave away a needless penalty and never really recovered.
RM: Lauren James – 5/10 – Completely anonymous in the first half. Involved a fair bit after the break but by then the game was in Arsenal’s hands.
AM: Jelena Cankovic – 4/10 – Withdrawn for Buchanan during a first half tactical switch.
LM: Guro Reiten – 7/10 – Had Arsenal and sixes and sevens with her brilliant crossing.
CF: Sam Kerr – 7/10 – Frustrated by a strong Arsenal defence after catching them sleeping in the opening 100 seconds.
Kadeisha Buchanan (40′ for Cankovic) – 4/10
Melanie Leupolz (46′ for Charles) – 5/10
Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (63′ for Ingle) – 5/10
Jessie Fleming (77′ for Eriksson) – N/A
Emma Hayes – 5/10 – Changed formation several times to try and keep Chelsea afloat but to no avail.
Player of the Match – Kim Little (Arsenal)