5 things we learned from Man Utd's Women's FA Cup triumph over Tottenham

  • Man Utd Women secured first piece of major silverware with FA Cup win
  • Goals from Ella Toone, Rachel Williams and Lucia Garcia propelled United to victory
  • Tottenham’s first season under Robert Vilahamn ends in heartbreak at Wembley
Manchester United won the Women's FA Cup for the first time in their history with a 4-0 win over Tottenham
Manchester United won the Women's FA Cup for the first time in their history with a 4-0 win over Tottenham / Julian Finney/GettyImages

After being on the losing end of a Women's FA Cup final 12 months ago, Manchester United were determined to not suffer the same fate again.

Against a side that have never beaten them before in Tottenham Hotspur, the odds were heavily in the Red Devils’ favour heading into Sunday’s showdown at Wembley Stadium. However, after a 2-2 draw in the Women’s Super League only a couple of weeks ago, Spurs had every right to believe they could cause an upset on the day.

United, though, showed their class and professionalism. Ella Toone, Rachel Williams and Lucia Garcia fired Marc Skinner’s side to victory as they became history makers by securing the club’s first piece of major silverware in the women’s game.

Here's what we learned from the FA Cup final…

New name on the trophy

Mary Earps
Man Utd players celebrate with the FA Cup / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Regardless of which way the game went, history was always going to be made. United were finalists last year but failed to get their hands on the trophy, whereas Tottenham found themselves on the brink of major silverware for the first time in their history.

Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City have been the most successful teams in recent times, but on Sunday a new name was engraved on the trophy for the first time since 2017 when City secured the prize for the first time.

It’s a significant moment in the trajectory of women’s football in England as both Tottenham and United are in their infancy in terms of competing in the professional game. The two clubs were promoted to the WSL in 2019 and both have enjoyed a remarkable rise that culminated in Sunday’s final at Wembley.

The general order may not be entirely disrupted as Arsenal secured the Conti Cup a few months ago and either Chelsea or Manchester City will be crowned WSL champions next week. However, the FA Cup final does prove other teams in the division are growing in prominence and are able to compete for major honours, making the women’s game in England as competitive as it has ever been.

Man Utd save season

Marc Skinner
Man Utd have endured a difficult season to this point / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

Defeat on Sunday might have been the nail in the coffin for Skinner among United fans after what has been a pretty mediocre season by their standards. After running Chelsea close for the league title last term, many would’ve expected the Red Devils to be in the thick of a title race once again.

However, in Europe, the Conti Cup and the WSL, their run was short. Results have been hit and miss for much of the season, but the FA Cup presented a huge opportunity to end the campaign on a high and lift spirits at the club.

With the manager and a handful of players, including goalkeeper Mary Earps, set to have their contracts expire in the summer, the first taste of silverware could prove pivotal in the conversations to come.

Clinton a big miss for Spurs

Grace Clinton
Clinton, on loan at Tottenham from Man Utd, wasn't able to feature against her parent club / Paul Harding/GettyImages

Grace Clinton has arguably been one of Spurs’ best players this term as her incredible campaign earned her a much-deserved Player of the Season nomination. The on-loan youngster also received her first England call-up and made her senior debut for the Lionesses in February.

While the 21-year-old was in attendance at Wembley to support her teammates, she couldn’t feature against her parent club and was forced to watch on from the sidelines. Spurs will never know if things would have been different had she been able to play, but it’s fair to say she could have been a difference maker.

Robert Vilahamn’s side desperately missed her creativity and drive in midfield as United dominated the middle of the park. Clinton has five goals and three assists across all competitions this term and she was a noticeable absentee on Sunday.

Man Utd display strength in depth

Melvine Malard
Melvine Malard was among the Man Utd substitutes / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

One of the biggest differences between United and Spurs on Sunday was the depth in their respective squads and the quality of substitutes both managers had at their disposal. With Williams and Garcia both starting for Skinner’s side, that left the likes of Melvine Malard, Geyse and Nikita Parris as potential game changers from the bench.

As it turned out, the starters got most of the job done. But, United’s 11 on the pitch just got stronger as the game wore on.

In warm weather that required a drinks break in both halves, as well as dealing with tired legs, it was always going to be a tall order for Tottenham. Vilahamn was able to make plenty of changes himself, but few additions had the potential to turn the game on its head.

Even if United were to still be level late on, they always had the firepower to grasp the game if needed.

Spurs fail to learn lessons

Rachel Williams
Williams heads in Man Utd's third goal of the afternoon / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

In the league meeting between the two teams only a matter of weeks ago, set pieces proved a sticking point for the Lilywhites. United were a constant threat from dead balls, not least because of Katie Zelem’s consistent outstanding delivery.

Vilahamn needed to prepare his side better to deal with these situations. For a while, it felt like the first goal was going to come from a United corner as Williams, Millie Turner and Garcia all came close to scoring in the first half.

Spurs looked a mess when defending these situations and, if not for last-gasp goal line clearances, they could’ve been trailing by more than one at half-time. The warning signs were there, which should make United’s second goal even more frustrating for the Tottenham boss.

Making substitutions when defending a set piece is a questionable decision in itself. But Williams’ goal was one that everyone saw coming and one Spurs should’ve been able to prevent.