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Matildas help Arsenal to cup success over Chelsea

AP PHOTO

Arsenal's trio of Matildas have helped the London side defend the women's league cup, defeating a Chelsea side that sorely missed Sam Kerr's big game goalscoring habit in the final at Molineux.

While Kerr was absent with the anterior cruciate ligament injury that has ruled her out of the Olympics, Arsenal initially omitted their Matildas but Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley were introduced late in normal time and Kyra Cooney-Cross in extra-time.

All made an impact, the former pair's fresh legs and latter's passing stretching the game, ultimately decisively.

For 116 minutes the two clubs had slugged each other to a standstill at Wolverhampton Wanderers' ground, the contest only pausing when Arsenal's Frida Maanum collapsed on the pitch and needed urgent medical help.

With Maanum thankfully recovering and the game resumed, penalties were looming when Catley and Foord linked up once more on the left flank.

Catley released Foord, who cut inside in trademark style. The ball was worked to Sweden's Stina Backstenius and, suddenly, the stalemate was broken.

Arsenal held on to deny Chelsea a possible quadruple of league, FA Cup, league cup and Champions League - a feat only once previously achieved by an English team, Arsenal themselves in 2007.

Post-match the managers confronted each other, with Chelsea's Emma Hayes pushing Arsenal's Jonas Eidevall, later accusing the Swede of "male aggression" on the touchline.

Eidevall denied this and said others "need to look in the mirror".

The disagreement was caused by Eidevall taking exception to Chelsea using an alternative ball for a quick throw-in late in the game when they had insisted pre-match on not using a multi-ball system.

In front of a competition final record 21,462 Chelsea thought they had taken the lead on 21 minutes through Mayra Ramirez's 25-yard drive but VAR spotted a handball in the build-up.

Arsenal's Katie McCabe and Cloe Lacasse subsequently stretched Chelsea keeper Hannah Hampton, while Arsenal's Manuela Zinsberger denied Lauren James.

As the 90 minutes came to an end Maanum, off the ball, fell to the ground. The Norwegian was quickly treated by paramedics and removed from the pitch on a stretcher.

Arsenal issued an update early in extra-time, confirming Maanum was "conscious, talking and in a stable condition" and will be closely monitored by the club's medical team.