Chelsea manager Emma Hayes described Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby as “out of this world” after the star duo helped mark a significant anniversary in women’s football with a 3-0 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup final.
The Women’s FA Cup showpiece fell exactly 100 years to the day since the Football Association (FA) banned women from playing football – it took almost 50 years for the ban to be lifted when Southampton defeated Stewarton Thistle 4-1 in the first tournament in 1971.
Sunday was all about celebration as more than 40,000 fans packed into Wembley to watch Chelsea trump London rivals Arsenal in the 2020-21 decider, which had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Englishwoman Kirby opened the scoring before Australian star Kerr scored twice, including a stunning chip, as Chelsea added to their Women’s Super League and Women’s Continental League Cup success earlier this year, completing a domestic treble for the first time in their history.
— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) December 6, 2021
“I thought we got it spot-on. We predicted what they were going to do and they did what we thought they were going to do,” Hayes said post-match. “We’ve painted Wembley blue, it’s certainly a Chelsea day today and our performance was absolutely superb.
“The front two were out of this world. I said to Fran it was the best game I’ve ever seen her play for Chelsea and Sam’s confidence is growing. But everybody played their part, did the job we asked them to do and we thoroughly deserved to be winners.
“To think we are treble winners, it is an amazing achievement – you can’t ask for any more from the players and I am extremely proud of them, the staff and the club.
“We have built this team over a long period of time and today I think we showed why we are champions. [There will be] zero chance of celebration. The bus is leaving from here and they are going home – they know the deal, we need to win [against Juventus on] Wednesday!”
— Vitality Women’s FA Cup (@VitalityWFACup) December 5, 2021
Kerr became the first Australian woman to score in a Wembley final in a player-of-the-match performance.
She also became the third Australian – man or woman – to celebrate FA Cup glory at Wembley after Liverpool’s Craig Johnston and Harry Kewell.
“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,” said Hayes. “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.”