Ella Toone screamer sparks Manchester United’s FA Cup final rout of Tottenham

Wembley golden girl Ella Toone scored her fourth goal in seven appearances at the national stadium to launch Manchester United towards an emphatic 4-0 FA Cup final win over Tottenham.

Toone collected her third winner’s medal under the arch of the national stadium, having scored the opening goals in England’s Euro 2022 and Finalissima wins. Her finish to help her childhood team to a first major women’s title was sublime, and critically timed, coming deep into stoppage time at the end of the first half.

United’s manager, Marc Skinner, had said no one was “more deserving” than Rachel Williams of a start in the final, and she delivered, adding the second that would put United firmly in the driving seat, before a howler from Tottenham’s goalkeeper, Becky Spencer, gifted Lucía García United’s third before the Spaniard fired in their fourth.

Skinner made two changes to the team that lost 1-0 against Liverpool last week, allowing their rivals to leapfrog them into fourth. Williams, who was so effective in their semi-final defeat of Chelsea, replaced Nikita Parris and Jayde Riviere replaced Gemma Evans at right-back. Meanwhile, Tottenham were forced to replace Grace Clinton, with the on-loan England international unable to play against her parent club United, with Martha Thomas replacing her, while Amy James-Turner came in for Molly Bartrip in defence.

There was no Jim Ratcliffe or Dave Brailsford at Wembley to watch the first of two United teams to attempt to lift the FA Cup this month, with the pair spotted at Old Trafford five hours before kick-off in the men’s game against Arsenal. But Avram Glazer was in attendance, spotted shaking hands with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy ahead in the buildup.

Ahead of kick-off, Skinner urged his players to be “business-like” in approach and make their experience of playing in last year’s final, which they lost 1-0 to Chelsea, count. The Red Devils started brightly in the sun at Wembley, Spencer forced to race out and block Leah Galton’s effort after the forward had played a neat one-two to find herself in space on the left.

A series of corners provided them with ample opportunity to heap pressure on the Spurs back line, Williams narrowly heading wide and García over the bar in their best efforts from set pieces.

United were dominant, with 13 shots in the first half to Tottenham’s three, but the London team weren’t without chances, Ashleigh Neville’s cross from the right met by Matilda Vinberg who couldn’t quite direct her header on target, sending it over the bar.

Lucia García cashes in on Rebecca Spencer’s mistake to score United’s third. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters

With 23 minutes played, Toone would go close, Williams heading it down for the England midfielder only for her to flick it over the bar from close range. She would not make the same mistake on her happy hunting ground deep into stoppage time at the end of the first half, shifting across the edge of the box from left to right and taking herself past Eveliina Summanen before lashing in.

Robert Vilahamn’s side just could not get their touch right in the final third and there was no change after the break, United were patient in their approach, forcing mistakes from their opponents and biding their time. United’s second came 10 minutes after the restart, a Katie Zelem free-kick headed in by Williams who leapt high above Neville to connect.

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The goal that would kill any hopes of a comeback came two minutes later and it was a gift, Spencer collecting a back pass and, under no pressure, delivered it straight to the feet of García who fired into the empty net. García would grab a second, firing first-time finish after Millie Turner held off pressure before squaring to the forward.

It was emphatic, Vilahamn’s side had no reply, failing to register a single shot on target. Huge numbers of fans in white trickled out before the final whistle, but there are huge positives to take in just reaching the FA Cup final a season after Tottenham narrowly avoided relegation from the Women’s Super League. The green shoots are there.

For United, and Skinner, this trophy was needed after a disappointing league campaign that has seen the spaces in next season’s Champions League already sewn up with them not in contention. There are mutterings of frustration from fans, but there is also hope too, hope that silverware will inspire the increased investment and support from the club that is sorely needed if they are to continue winning.

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