Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea: Player ratings as Kerr goal edges Women's FA Cup semi-final

Chelsea managed to grind out a 1-0 win over Aston Villa
Chelsea managed to grind out a 1-0 win over Aston Villa / Gareth Copley/GettyImages

Chelsea will meet Manchester United in the 2023 Women’s FA Cup final after securing a narrow and hard fought 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon. Sam Kerr scored the only goal of the game to cap a performance from the cup holders that was functional more than anything.

It was clear from the start that Aston Villa were making a much better go of this tie than the recent WSL meeting between the sides that ended in a one-sided 3-0 Chelsea win, initially dominating the ball in the early stages and asking questions of the visitors.

Chelsea’s earliest opportunities actually came from set-pieces, with Magda Eriksson heading straight at Hannah Hampton, and Lauren James flashing an effort wide and another one over from positions she might have expected to hit the target. Kerr also hit one straight at Hampton.

There was a sense midway through the first half that Chelsea were starting to turn the screw – James went much closer with a low left-footed drive after high pressure won the ball back. But Villa did well to respond and a pair of crosses to Rachel Daly in quick succession caused real panic.

Villa’s first shot on target in the closing stages of the first half brought an excellent save that Zecira Musovic made look surprisingly comfortable – diving to her right and holding on to Lucy Staniforth’s dipping and swerving effort from distance. But before the break, it was Eve Perisset in stoppage time who missed the best chance of the half, blazing a superb chance high and wide.

Chelsea went within the width of a post of taking the lead right after the restart, with James finding Jelena Cankovic, who struck the top of the upright from the edge of the box.

Villa were hanging on slightly when Danielle Turner made a huge block, but Daly might then have thought she could have done better at the other end with a miscued free header. Some of the Villa fans inside the Bescot Stadium were then on their feet celebrating what they thought was a breakthrough from Alisha Lehmann, but her low shot rippled the net the wrong side of the post.

Almost immediately, the other net rippled and it was a goal. Guro Reiten and Kerr had been well marshalled by Villa for an hour. Yet Reiten had been coming more into the game since the interval and stood the ball up to the far post for Chelsea’s Australian superstar to nod in.

The goal understandably brought some faster tempo and urgency to Villa’s play, with Emma Hayes looking to her bench to tighten things up defensively.

As the games neared the final stages, Lehmann drove the ball across the box, missing the target. Kerr missed a good chance to double Chelsea’s lead, before Kenza Dali skied a glorious chance to equalise. Villa full-back Sarah Mayling then ended up striking the base of the post in a tense finish.

Pushing everyone forward, Villa stayed in at the death when Hampton saved one-on-one against Kerr, while Musovic comfortably caught a long-range shot from Jordan Nobbs.

Aston Villa player ratings (4-3-3)

GK: Hannah Hampton - 6/10 - Didn't have loads to do, surprisingly, but was a commanding presence.

RB: Sarah Mayling - 6/10 - Initially had a handle on Reiten but found it increasingly difficult. Agonisingly hit the post in the closing stages.

CB: Danielle Turner (c) - 7/10 - Made a big early tackle on Reiten and continued with huge blocks.

CB: Anna Patten - 7/10 - Defended well and was thrown up front for the last few minutes.

LB: Maz Pacheco - 5/10 - Will be disappointed to have lost Kerr when the Chelsea striker scored.

CM: Jordan Nobbs - 7/10 - Helped make Villa competitive until the end.

CM: Lucy Staniforth - 7/10 - Played with guile and experience.

CM: Kenza Dali - 7/10 - Not always able to get on the ball when Villa were targeting space out wide, yet was good when her team played centrally a little more after going behind.

RW: Alisha Lehmann - 7/10 - Looked to stretch the game with pace by getting in behind Chelsea. Only narrowly missed the target right before Chelsea scored.

ST: Rachel Daly - 6/10 - Not starved of service by any means and occupied the Chelsea centre-backs well. Just couldn't make the most of balls into the middle.

LW: Kirsty Hanson - 8/10 - A hugely threatening source of danger for Villa and consistently put decent crosses in. Got better as the game progressed too.




Carla Ward - 7/10 - Sent her team out with a clear gameplan and resisted making changes because it had them right in the game and in with a chance until very end.

Chelsea player ratings (4-2-3-1)

GK: Zecira Musovic - 7/10 - Needed lengthey treatement after a first half collision with Daly, but shook off any problem. Made saves when called upon.

RB: Eve Perisset - 5/10 - Found it quite tough against Hanson's pace and trickery. Missed a glorious chance to give Chelsea a first half lead.

CB: Maren Mjelde - 6/10 - Came through the challenge of facing Daly.

CB: Magdalena Eriksson (c) - 6/10 - Continued better recent form after a difficult patch.

LB: Jess Carter - 7/10 - Willing to put her body on the line and strong 1v1.

CM: Melanie Leupolz - 6/10 - Had to contend with a potentially vision-obscuring protective mask and did an admirable job in the circumstances.

CM: Erin Cuthbert - 5/10 - Not her most influential game but did well to get 70 minutes after missing international duty through injury earlier this month.

RM: Lauren James - 7/10 - Missed the target with a few early chances but was heavily involved in everything that Chelsea were creating from the off.

AM: Jelena Cankovic - 8/10 - Hit the post straight after half-time and was involved in creating the space for Reiten to set up Kerr's header. Always on the move.

LM: Guro Reiten - 7/10 - Quiet in the first half by her usual standards but started to become more involved and it directly correlated to Chelsea getting in front.

ST: Sam Kerr - 7/10 - Surprisingly isolated for a long time, only to come up big with a goal.


SUB: Sophie Ingle (64 ' for Leupolz) - 6/10

SUB: Niamh Charles (65' for James) - 6/10

SUB: Jessie Fleming (70' for Cuthbert) - 6/10

SUB: Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (88' for Reiten) - N/A


Emma Hayes - 7/10 - Contending with so many injuries to important players. Kept faith with the starters until the breakthrough goal was scored and then looked to shut up shop with her subs.

Player of the match - Jelena Cankovic (Chelsea)