By Connor Armstrong
Arsenal’s defence of the Continental Cup ended with a 1-0 defeat against Manchester City on Sunday.
The Gunners had the better opportunities and repeatedly came close to breaking the deadlock before Jennifer Beattie delivered a late sucker-punch.
Dan Carter saw a rifled effort cannon back off the crossbar, moments after firing over from close range after Asisat Oshoala’s shot had been parried.
Beattie then turned the ball home from close range to deliver a blow to Arsenal’s hopes.
Kelly Smith was just inches away from equalising in the 85th minute, but City captain Steph Houghton cleared the ball on the line.
SETTING THE SCENE
Pedro Martinez Losa handed Emma Byrne another start in goal, after successfully appealing her red card in the 2-0 win over Notts County last weekend.
Alex Scott returned to the starting XI, with Casey Stoney partnering Josephine Henning at the heart of the defence.
Jordan Nobbs and Dominique Janssen lined up alongside each other in central midfield.
Oshoala kept her place in the starting line up after finding the net against the Lady Pies, with Smith handed a starting berth to lead the line.
The opening 45 minutes was characterised by the hosts seeing more of the ball, but the Gunners having the better chances to open the scoring.
Oshoala seized on a weak backpass midway through the first half, but City goalkeeper Marie Hourihan was quick to dart off her line and smother the ball.
The Nigerian forward posed countless problems for the Citizens’ backline, charging in on goal once again soon after before dragging a shot wide of the target.
Danielle van de Donk went closest to breaking the deadlock when she expertly brought down a cross from deep, but she could only lash an effort over the crossbar before making an early exit after picking up a nasty-looking head injury.
Byrne was only ever tested once, but was alert to make a save after Toni Duggan took aim.
Stoney went close to finding the net when she met Vicky Losada’s corner with a thumping header, but it failed to find the target as Arsenal started the second half.
Carter was presented with a great opportunity when Hourihan parried Oshoala’s initial effort, but fired over under pressure from the covering defenders.
The forward went closer yet within minutes, slamming a right-footed drive against the crossbar as the Gunners continued to up the ante.
However, Losa’s side were left to regret their failure to convert, with Beattie tapping in from close range after a City free-kick had dropped in the penalty area.
Smith went closest to levelling up, but her late attempt was hacked off the line by former Gunner Houghton as the hosts held on to eliminate Arsenal.
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