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Man City 0-1 Chelsea: Lauren James' strike helps Chelsea book fifth straight Conti Cup final place

Report from the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Chelsea at Joie Stadium on Thursday night; Lauren James' strike after nine minutes sends Blues into the final where they will face Arsenal at Molineux on March 31

Chelsea booked their place in the Conti Cup final for the fifth season in succession after a narrow 1-0 win over Man City on Thursday night. 

Lauren James opened the scoring after nine minutes, with the England forward's strike the decisive one, as City were unable to capitalise on a dominant second half at Joie Stadium.

Meanwhile, Alex Greenwood was denied a last-minute penalty after she appeared to be brought down inside the box after a chaotic scramble.

The result extinguishes City's hopes of achieving a treble this season, but keeps Chelsea's hopes of achieving a quadruple in Emma Hayes' final months in charge of the Blues very much intact.

They progress to the final, where they will face Arsenal at Molineux on Sunday March 31.

How Chelsea booked another Conti Cup final spot

Bunny Shaw's goal after only 14 minutes had settled the crunch WSL match between the teams at Kingsmeadow a day shy of three weeks earlier - and Man City looked keen to strike another early blow, this time on home soil.

The intensity of their press was high from the off and Shaw had two chances to give the hosts the lead inside five minutes; she lashed one into the side-netting, before meeting Lauren Hemp's clipped cross and guiding a header across the face of goal.

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Chelsea have reached the Conti Cup final for the fifth season in a row
Image: Chelsea have reached the Conti Cup final for the fifth season in a row

But with their first foray forward, Chelsea took the lead. Mayra Ramirez led an attack after Erin Cuthbert seized on a rushed pass and laid the ball off the James, whose shot took a slight touch off Alex Greenwood's boot and beat Khiara Keating at her near post.

The Blues clearly had more pep in their step after the opener and they frustrated City after that, giving them much less space to operate in, which greatly reduced the fluency of their attack.

It returned after the break, though, and - had it not been for Hannah Hampton - City might well have turned the game in their favour. She made two saves to deny Shaw from almost identical positions, while also impressively saving Hemp's first-time shot and then smothering the follow-up.

The efforts that came afterwards from Shaw, Chloe Kelly and Filippa Angeldahl lacked composure and made the goalkeeper's job a simple one.

As the chances came and went, it became clearer that it wasn't going to be the hosts' night - and when Greenwood went down amid a late, late scramble for an equaliser and no penalty was awarded, that was confirmed.

Taylor: City denied blatant penalty

Man City head coach Gareth Taylor:

"I thought we played extremely well. One of the best second-half performances I think I've seen from us.

"We're feelling aggrieved, obviously. We've seen it back and seen how close the referee was - I think it's a blatant penalty. Also, five minutes (added time) was pretty comical with the amount of time-wasting that was going on.

"What we've seen recently, what we had to encounter down at Kingsmeadow and what we had earlier in the season, I think we went in to between 10 and 15 minutes overtime and then even more.

"I'm frustrated on that part, but really proud of the players and what we showed tonight.

"Of course we're disappointed we didn't get the goal and we gave away a sloppy one, which is probably one of the only errors we made tonight.

"But their goalkeeper was probably the player of the game for them."

What's next?

Both teams are back in action for the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday March 10. Chelsea travel to Walton Hall Park to face Everton at 1pm, while Man City take on Tottenham at Brisbane Road at 3pm.

The Blues return to WSL action at 7pm on Friday March 15, when they go head-to-head with title rivals Arsenal, live on Sky Sports Premier League. City take on Brighton at 12.30pm on Sunday March 17.

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