Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall heaped praise on captain Kim Little after her penalty in the Continental Cup final helped earn the Gunners their first trophy in nearly four years with a 3-1 victory over Chelsea.
Arsenal came from behind in front of a record Women’s League Cup final crowd of 19,010 at Selhurst Park to claim their first silverware since winning the Women’s Super League in 2018/19.
Stina Blackstenius cancelled out Sam Kerr’s second-minute opener before Little fired home from the spot and a Niamh Charles own goal completed the scoring half-time.
“I’m very proud of the team’s display,” Eidevall said. “Of course we got off to a very difficult start conceding the goal early on, so it was a real test of character and I think we handled it brilliantly.
“When you thought (Little) couldn’t get better she puts on that performance. I told Kim straight after the game, I wasn’t sure if it was possible, but this is the best you’ve been when I’ve been the coach. I think she’s phenomenal.
“The way she connects the team, the duels, the work rate, the decision-making on the ball, I think she played close to a perfect match. I’m so happy for her, because I think it is a trait of a great player to have a performance like that.”
Chelsea edged last Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round contest with the Gunners, Sophie Ingle and Kerr scoring in that 2-0 victory.
This time, aside from her opener, a header from Guro Reiten’s pinpoint cross, Arsenal were largely able to shut down the Australian striker.
While possession was ultimately an even 50/50 split, the Gunners’ victory was well-deserved, the third goal seeming to sink Chelsea’s spirits.
Boss Emma Hayes made several second-half changes hoping to ignite a comeback, but substitute Melanie Leupolz could only hit the crossbar as the Blues ran out of time.
“I don’t think the team today looked anywhere near the side that I know,” said Hayes.
“Like I said, sometimes when you’ve got a lot of trophies, and we have lots of them, I saw the fire in the players for Arsenal, and I didn’t see that in us today, and I think that made it really, really difficult for us to get back in the game.
“The third goal killed that off. I’m very disappointed with that complacency from us.”