Great Britain

Manchester City's Sam Mewis sinks Arsenal in Women's FA Cup semi-final

Before their Women’s FA Cup semi-final, Joe Montemurro had said that the team that found its rhythm “as quickly as possible” and was “able to control and dictate” would be most likely to progress. Unfortunately for the Arsenal manager, that was Manchester City

Sam Mewis, the World Cup-winning USA midfielder, was at the hustling centre of a press that would earn her new team a Wembley final against Everton on 1 November. Mewis’s winner, her first goal in England, came three minutes after Jordan Nobbs had levelled following Steph Houghton’s free-kick opener for City.

“It just hopefully reinforces the work we are doing,” said City’s manager, Gareth Taylor, after reaching Wembley. “Adding to a squad, changing the coach, naturally at times it’s not necessarily going to click straight away but I was really pleased.”

He was right to be. Arsenal’s attack had been the most potent since play resumed, with a staggering 19 goals scored in their opening three fixtures. City’s start had been less eye-catching, with a 0-0 draw at home to Brighton and a tight 2-1 defeat of Championship side Leicester in their FA Cup quarter-final having followed their 2-0 league opener against promoted Aston Villa.

However, although the home side had not quite found their flow in attack, at the back they had proved solid before welcoming Arsenal to a cool but clear Academy Stadium.

It would be that defence, and in particular the centre-back pairing of Gemma Bonner and Houghton, that would stifle the free-scoring Gunners and draw first blood.

Bonner, hoping to impress Phil Neville to help her add to her modest tally of 11 caps, muscled aside every attack from Arsenal’s tricky forward line with intent in front of the watching England manager.

Taylor pointed to the lack of depth at centre-back as having strengthened the pairing. “They’ve played a lot together,” he said.

Houghton then proved her worth at the other end. After the Scotland winger Caroline Weir was tripped outside the area, the Lionesses captain stepped up to deliver a perfect looping free-kick in at the near post.

Perhaps frustrated with her team’s lack of control, Nobbs laced a long-range dipping effort with such ferocity that it bamboozled the England goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck and powered into the net.

Unfazed, Taylor’s team built again, displaying the kind of patience Montemurro had been hoping to instil in his Gunners. It quickly paid off. When Chloe Kelly’s cross towards Ellen White saw the latter slide to the ground under pressure, the Arsenal defence switched off and allowed the floored striker to poke cleanly into the run of Mewis, who slid the ball in.

“I thought this was such a great game, Arsenal was a really tough opponent, the intensity was really high,” said Mewis. “I’m really proud of the girls, we had to grind it out in the second half and it was a great team effort.”

There was a symmetry to the way City played. Kelly looked to be being coached and instructed on the right wing by the returnee Lucy Bronze behind her, while Mewis provided strength and energy in the middle that would free space for Keira Walsh to spray passes from deep.

Arsenal can take a little solace from the fact that they remain unscathed in all the new campaign’s competitions.

The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email.

“City were better than us tonight,” said Montemurro. “They swung us around and beat our press. We got unorganised when we allowed them to advance.”

City have laid down a marker, earning Taylor a chance for his first silverware at the club, and they can build on a performance in which they finally found their flow. That Rose Lavelle, a World Cup final goalscorer, would come on to make her debut with City already pulling the strings also hinted of how much more there is to come.

“On the field, Rose and I feel like we’re learning so much already,” said Mewis of her compatriot. “I feel like, for the most part, I’m the one who’s learning. I feel like a sponge.”

Football news:

Çalhanoğlu may miss three matches Milan because of an ankle injury
Agent Golovin: In the summer, we had sluggish negotiations with Barca and PSG. Sasha only thinks about Europe
Jessie Marsh: Lokomotiv Don't have the biggest names, but they have a lot of experienced players. This is a smart opponent
Neville on the European Premier League: Football will soon devour itself, because fans will turn away from it
Conte on Real Madrid in the Champions League: It's funny that someone doesn't consider them favourites. Great Champions play for them
Louis SAA: Manchester United depend on Pogba and Bruno, the team's best players. He lost his balance in defense
The authors of the idea of the European Premier League see it as a replacement for the Champions League. National associations will oppose