The 53rd edition of the Women’s FA Cup final took place on Sunday, May 14. Manchester United made it to Wembley for the first time in their five-year history – while their opponents, Chelsea, were seasoned regulars with five-time winners from seven finals outings.
And Chelsea once again sealed the victory with a 68th-minute winner from back-to-back FWA player-of-the-season winner Sam Kerr. This secured her team’s third consecutive FA Cup, the first club to achieve the feat in the Women’s Super League era.
A close game that was won by a sheer moment of brilliance from two of the world’s best players in Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder, who assisted.
With such world-class players in both sides, here are the top five stand-out players from this year’s final.
1) Sam Kerr
The all-time Australian goalscorer once again made her mark in history, with goals in three consecutive finals. Although she was kept quiet for the first half, Kerr had moments breaking through the United defence, leaving them wary.
With Kerr in the side, you cannot count her out no matter how quiet she has been – all she needs is one chance to take. The elite striker once again led Chelsea to silverware.
2) Pernille Harder
With the Dane being injured for the most part of the season, her return in recent league games has been something to admire – with four goals and two assists. It may have come as a shock for the two-time UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award winner to not be included in the starting XI in such a big occasion.
Coming on in the 57th minute with the game tied at 0-0, it only took her 10 minutes to make her mark as she put the ball across the United defence just out of reach of Mary Earps for Kerr to tuck away.
The impact of Harder on the team could not go unnoticed, the Blues were pinned down for over an hour with chances rarely appearing until the playmaking of Harder arrived.
Pernille Harder will be such a big miss if/when she does leave, crucial impact in our last 4 games 😢
— ChelseaSchürrle ★ ★ (@ChelseaShurrle) May 14, 2023
3) Nikita Parris
The UEFA Champions league winner made chance after chance for the Reds in the first half, as they kept pushing the Chelsea defence. Parris initiated the press and caused trouble for the Blues’ left back Niamh Charles.
The energy levels from the England international were key in how United kept Chelsea quiet for an hour, so it was a surprise when manager Marc Skinner substituted her shortly after the hour mark, just minutes before the winning goal.
Don't understand why Marc Skinner took Nikita Parris off. Was Uniteds best player in the first half. Poor decision. @ManUtdWomen
— Pauly (@PaulyFPL) May 14, 2023
4) Ella Toone
A brilliant start for the Euro winner saw her set up the first goal of the game within the first 30 seconds. The attacking midfielder played a ball into the Chelsea box that found Leah Galton, however this energetic start was short lived as it was quickly ruled offside.
Alongside the pressing of Parris, the aggression and energy from Toone in the middle of the park was just as crucial to Skinner’s game plan. Alongside the substitution of Parris, Toone moved onto the wing in her place, and this allowed the Chelsea midfield to have more time on the ball once again helping their attack.
5) Erin Cuthbert
A player who often goes under the radar in the Blues team. The Scottish international has rarely missed a game this term, and the final shows why. She was tenacious in the defensive duties and direct in attacking duties. An engine for Chelsea with intensity that neve dipped in such a high energy game.
Cuthbert has proved crucial under manager Emma Hayes, transitioning from winger to full back, and then into midfield.
She has made the role her own with her ability to win the ball back and play it forward, which troubled the United defence throughout the game.