Chelsea won their second Women’s FA Cup as they beat London rivals Arsenal in front of a new competition-record crowd of 45,423 at Wembley.
After a quiet first half, Ramona Bachmann brought the game to life with two fine strikes shortly after the break to put the Blues in control.
Vivianne Miedema’s low finish gave Arsenal hope, but Fran Kirby’s curling shot restored Chelsea’s two-goal lead.
The Gunners, playing in their 16th final, were unable to respond late on.
Chelsea’s victory kept alive their hopes of a domestic double, with four more games remaining of the Women’s Super League One season and only goal difference separating them and leaders Manchester City.
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For Arsenal, who had been bidding for their second domestic trophy of the season after lifting Continental Tyres Cup in March, the defeat meant they were unable to add to their dominant record of 14 wins from 16 FA Cup finals.
The fourth Women’s FA Cup final to be played at the national stadium endured a relatively subdued first half of few clear-cut chances, but it sparked into life when the lively Bachmann fired the ball into the roof of the net soon after half-time.
The 27-year-old Switzerland international soon doubled the lead, as her well-hit shot from the right-hand side was deflected into the far corner.
Arsenal, who had gone close through Miedema’s deflected effort in the first half, pulled one back through the Netherlands striker, as she tucked the ball in after good work from Beth Mead.
But England forward Kirby’s clinical finish to make it 3-1 added to a remarkable season that has seen her awarded both the PFA Women’s Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year award, as well as helping the Blues reach the semi-finals of the Women’s Champions League.
Hayes leads Blues to more glory
Victory saw Chelsea claim their fourth piece of major domestic silverware, all of which have come under boss Emma Hayes’ tenure, since the former Arsenal assistant coach took charge in 2012.
The Blues’ second FA Cup added to their 2015 league title and their triumph in 2017’s one-off, transitional spring series.
Hayes – who is 33-weeks pregnant with twins and opted to follow the match from the dugout, seated, after health advice – has built a side full of talented internationals and her front three of Kirby, South Korea’s Ji So-Yun and Bachmann delivered for their manager when it mattered after half-time.
The result saw the Blues avenge 2016’s 1-0 loss to the Gunners at Wembley – a game in which Hayes had been critical of her side for “not turning up”, but the same could not be said on Saturday.
Chapman’s record-breaking 10th FA Cup
Almost exactly 21 years since winning her first FA Cup on 4 May, 1997 with Millwall Lionesses – then aged just 14 – midfielder Katie Chapman captained the Blues as she earned her 10th winners’ medal in the competition.
The former Arsenal star has also started in all 10 of those final successes.
Her new record cup win capped another marvellous campaign for the heavily-decorated 35-year-old, who performed well in the relatively deep holding role for the Blues at Wembley.
Player of the match – Ramona Bachmann
The former Wolfsburg forward’s two goals were vital but her movement, quick feet and tireless work ethic brought world-class quality to the game.
Hayes’ capture of Bachmann from the German side, who have knocked Chelsea out of Europe three seasons in a row, has been a key part of their recent success and may well yet play a pivotal role as they look to achieve their long-term target – winning the Women’s Champions League.
‘The last thing I needed was something nervy’ – what they said
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes told BBC Sport: “This is more enjoyable than the first time around [2015’s victory] because that was such a dominant performance from us.
“The quality of the goals showed the difference between the two sides.
“The last thing I needed was something too nervy and that was the most relaxed I’ve felt in a final in my entire career.
“With a record crowd, I’m very pleased that people watching today have watched a very high standard of football.”
Arsenal Women boss Joe Montemurro told BBC Sport: “We’re obviously disappointed but Chelsea are a powerful team.
“They’ve got players who can play on the big stages and they did that. The more we play these big games and these big teams, the more we’ll learn and get better.
“We need to be smarter and maybe a little bit braver in the way we set up defensively.
“We’re making small steps. We can’t change it overnight. My projects are always long term, they’re never short term.
“Whatever eleven Chelsea put out is a strong team. We’re a little bit different. We’ve got a very young squad. The future is bright.”
‘Chelsea controlled every ebb and flow’ – analysis
Former England defender Alex Scott told BBC Sport
The better team won, it’s as simple as that. Chelsea’s players showed up today and the Arsenal team was undone by individual class.
I’m struggling, going through the Arsenal team, to name any outstanding players.
These Arsenal players will have regret, they will have left this pitch thinking ‘I could have done better’. Chelsea felt that two years ago and you could see they didn’t want that feeling again.
Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis told BBC Sport
The lack of experience in the Arsenal team showed and when Chelsea took the lead it went flat and they didn’t have a response.
Arsenal’s big players did not shine and that’s the complete opposite for Chelsea. The front three for Chelsea were absolutely fabulous.
Chelsea built the momentum and even when Arsenal got a goal back, their response was to score another goal. They controlled every ebb and flow of this game.
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- 1van Veenendaal
Substituted forCarterat 84′minutes
Substituted forMcCabeat 84′minutes
- 20JanssenBooked at 42mins
Substituted forO’Reillyat 63′minutes
- 7van de Donk
Substituted forThorisdottirat 69′minutes
Substituted forCuthbertat 75′minutes
Substituted forAlukoat 84′minutes
- Lindsey Robinson
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Arsenal Women 1, Chelsea Ladies 3.
Second Half ends, Arsenal Women 1, Chelsea Ladies 3.
Corner, Chelsea Ladies. Conceded by Heather O’Reilly.
Corner, Chelsea Ladies. Conceded by Heather O’Reilly.
Corner, Chelsea Ladies. Conceded by Leah Williamson.
Daniëlle van de Donk (Arsenal Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Francesca Kirby (Chelsea Ladies).
Corner, Chelsea Ladies. Conceded by Katie McCabe.
Corner, Chelsea Ladies. Conceded by Sari van Veenendaal.
Attempt saved. Eniola Aluko (Chelsea Ladies) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Foul by Katie McCabe (Arsenal Women).
Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Ladies) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Ladies) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.
Substitution, Chelsea Ladies. Eniola Aluko replaces Ramona Bachmann.
Substitution, Arsenal Women. Danielle Carter replaces Lisa Evans.
Substitution, Arsenal Women. Katie McCabe replaces Emma Mitchell.
Goal! Arsenal Women 1, Chelsea Ladies 3. Francesca Kirby (Chelsea Ladies) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Hannah Blundell.
Attempt blocked. Francesca Kirby (Chelsea Ladies) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Substitution, Chelsea Ladies. Erin Cuthbert replaces Drew Spence.
Goal! Arsenal Women 1, Chelsea Ladies 2. Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Beth Mead.
Kim Little (Arsenal Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Katie Chapman (Chelsea Ladies).
Substitution, Chelsea Ladies. Maria Thorisdottir replaces Jonna Andersson.
Foul by Emma Mitchell (Arsenal Women).
Ramona Bachmann (Chelsea Ladies) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Arsenal Women. Heather O’Reilly replaces Dominique Janssen.
Attempt saved. Maren Mjelde (Chelsea Ladies) header from very close range is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Foul by Leah Williamson (Arsenal Women).
Drew Spence (Chelsea Ladies) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Arsenal Women 0, Chelsea Ladies 2. Ramona Bachmann (Chelsea Ladies) left footed shot from the right side of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Francesca Kirby.
Corner, Chelsea Ladies. Conceded by Louise Quinn.
Foul by Daniëlle van de Donk (Arsenal Women).
Katie Chapman (Chelsea Ladies) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Arsenal Women. Conceded by Magdalena Eriksson.
Attempt saved. Beth Mead (Arsenal Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Goal! Arsenal Women 0, Chelsea Ladies 1. Ramona Bachmann (Chelsea Ladies) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right to the top right corner. Assisted by Francesca Kirby.
Second Half begins Arsenal Women 0, Chelsea Ladies 0.
First Half ends, Arsenal Women 0, Chelsea Ladies 0.
Attempt missed. Ji So-Yun (Chelsea Ladies) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner.
Attempt saved. Ji So-Yun (Chelsea Ladies) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.