For the first time since 2014, Everton will play in the FA Cup Final at Wembley, with the last time the Toffees winning the competition back in 2010. Everton will play the winner of today’s semi-final fixture between heavyweights Arsenal and Manchester City, with the Final to be played in a month on November 1st.
A dark pitch illuminated by bright lights and the thought of advancing to Wembley served as the backdrop for yesterday’s FA Cup Semi-final. Everton were looking to book a trip to their first final at the national team’s stadium, with Birmingham looking to avenge a 2017 finals defeat.
It took the Toffees a bit of time to settle into the game, with both teams struggling to maintain possession. Bursts up the pitch fractured with the final pass, as both team’s defenses were happy to mop up at the back, disrupting any forward momentum.
Birmingham had a few early shots, but nothing that proved too difficult for Everton shot-stopper Sandy MacIver. With her steady presence in net, Izzy Christiansen and Nicoline Sørensen linked up to create some chances, but failed to break through a stout Birmingham defense led by Rachel Corsie.
The ebb-and-flow of the affair continued when Rikke Sevecke was caught in possession in the eighth minute, but a bit of smart defending saw her win the ball back and limit Birmingham’s attack.
After the opening ten minutes, however, Everton started to push the pace and threaten Birmingham keeper Hannah Hampton to the tune of three corners. In the 16’, the Toffees won a corner, and Sevecke flashed her striking abilities by nailing a one-time shot that rang off the crossbar.
One of the turning points in the first half was when Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah — who made her first start of the campaign for Everton — and Sørensen switched sides. Both dynamic playmakers, Everton proceeded to dominate the flanks for the remainder of the match.
In the 30’, Sevecke hit a long pass to Danielle Turner, who picked out Simone Magill in the box, and the Northern Irishwoman laid the ball to Lucy Graham who fired a shot, again well-defended by Corsie.
With resolute defending by Birmingham throughout the first half, it took Everton 44 minutes to break the deadlock. From the wing, Graham knocked a pass to Clémaron, who rolled the ball to Christiansen, followed by a no-look pass to Magill. All Hampton could do was watch as Magill fizzed a shot past her.
Only being down one saw Birmingham start the second half strong, with a Christie Murray shot forcing a quality save from MacIver. On the ensuing corner kick, MacIver again was alert to the threat and the defense stayed disciplined.
After diffusing Birmingham’s applied pressure, the Toffees worked one of the finest team goals of the season. In the 60’, Megan Finnigan charged from the right-side and sent a perfectly weighted ball over the top of Birmingham’s defense, connecting with Ingrid Moe Wold who had made a superb run forward. With the…