Sam Kerr has scored twice as Chelsea won the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley with a 3-0 victory over Arsenal.
Kerr had missed two good chances in the first half of Sunday’s final, striking the bar with one, but she would not be denied, scoring in the 57th and 77th minutes after England’s Fran Kirby had put Chelsea ahead in the third.
True to form, the ebullient Matildas captain was left celebrating with the bottle of champagne awarded to her as player of the match afterwards, declaring: “This will go down a treat – I can’t wait to party!”
Kerr is the first Australian woman to collect an FA Cup winners’ medal at Wembley, the third of any gender after Craig Johnston and Harry Kewell.
Steph Catley played the whole match for Arsenal and Caitlin Foord came on for the last 20 minutes, but neither Australian could make much impact as Chelsea competed a domestic 2020-21 treble, this final having been put back from May due to COVID-19.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said of Kerr: “So many wondered how Sam would cope in the English game. As far as I am concerned, she is the best striker in the world.
⚽ 56' Sam Kerr
⚽ 77' Sam Kerr
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) December 5, 2021
“She is courageous, she is full of confidence. She’s a superb athlete and an amazing human.
“And she can do that after getting off a plane from Australia on Thursday…
“She did not have a good night’s sleep last night but she just brushes things off. Champions do not make excuses, or become victims, or look for anybody else to manage them.”
Hayes, Chelsea manager since 2014, during which time they have won 10 major honours, added: “Sam takes responsibility.
“She is in control of making sure she sets the standards for herself and that’s what I admire about her. There was no way she was going to be on the losing team today.
“She sets the tone in such a way that I’ve rarely seen. She is a huge credit to Australia, and we are extremely lucky to have her here at this football club.”
Broadcaster Fara Williams, who won 172 caps for England and World Cup bronze, said: “Sam Kerr had plenty of chances and a player lacking in confidence wouldn’t have come out in the second half and delivered what she did.
“She scored two fantastic goals and arguably two goals that were the hardest to take out of all of her chances.”
Kerr, who became the first Australian woman to score in a Wembley final, admitted herself: “I think we deserved it, we played really well.
Sam Kerr. #WomensFACupFinal winner.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) December 5, 2021
“We have been playing really well the last few weeks, we kinda went in as underdogs, so we had a point to prove. Yeah, we’re buzzing.”
Virtually fresh of the plane, having arrived back on Thursday after playing twice for Australia against the USA last week, Kerr was immediately in the thick of the action.
After two minutes her attempted flick-on of a forward pass bounced off Arsenal’s Frida Maanum and into the path of Fran Kirby, Kerr’s original target.
The England striker coolly converted.
The duo – known to Chelsea fans as ‘Kerr-by’ – combined again four minutes later with a neat one-two on the edge of the box to release Kerr. But she shot too close to Manuela Zinsberger and the Austrian ‘keeper was able to block.
Kerr soon got behind the Arsenal defence again, this time cutting the ball back for Kirby whose fierce shot was turned onto the post by Zinsberger.
Prior to the match, it had looked as if the pairing of Catley and Ireland’s Katie McCabe could trouble makeshift Chelsea right-back Erin Cuthbert but such was the Blues’ control Arsenal struggled to sustain any pressure.
Instead, it was Kerr again who should have scored after 35 minutes. Having powered past Lotte Wubben-Moy onto a long ball she advanced on Zinsberger before dinking a clever shot over the keeper only to see the ball hit the bar.
Kerr finally got on the scoresheet when Kirby sent her clear on the left. She ran at Wubben-Moy before driving the ball through her legs inside the near post.
Ten minutes later, Kerr beat Wubben-Moy again, advanced on Zinsberger, and beat her with a sublime chip.
“It wouldn’t go in [in the first half] but we knew it was coming,” said Kerr. “We knew if we keep pushing at some point they would go in and they did.”
Asked if she had a message for family and friends watching in Australia, Kerr added: “I love you guys, I wish you could be here. These are the moments as a player that you play in and wish your family is here.
“But my girlfriend [US international Kristie Mewis] is here and I tried to put on a show.”