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Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Monday, 5 May 2008 14:57 UK

FA Cup win secures Arsenal Double

By David Ornstein


Faye White's Arsenal proved too strong

Three goals in six minutes saw Arsenal thrash Leeds 4-1 to win the FA Cup and secure a domestic Double.

The Gunners were frustrated in the opening 45 minutes but after the break the league champions took control.

Kelly Smith's hooked effort, Jayne Ludlow's neat finish and a deflected Lianne Sanderson shot put Arsenal on course for victory in Nottingham.

Jessica Clarke headed Leeds back into the game but Smith tapped a late fourth to secure a record ninth Cup triumph.

The result at the City Ground maintains Arsenal's 100% record in FA Cup finals and they have now won 29 major trophies in 16 years.

Having just sealed their fifth successive Premier League title, they came into the game as overwhelming favourites.

Arsenal beat Leeds 4-0 in March and 5-0 in the 2006 FA Cup final, and have suffered only one defeat in more than two years of domestic football.

And the gulf in class was evident from the outset as Rick Passmoor's side soaked up waves of pressure.

Arsenal spent lengthy periods of the first half encamped in their opponents' territory but they met stubborn resistance in the form of goalkeeper Carly Telford.


Alex Scott had already seen a scuffed effort cleared off the line before Smith saw her sixth-minute snap shot repelled by England's third-choice goalkeeper.

Two minutes later the 20-year-old expertly tipped Karen Carney's thunderous drive onto the cross-bar.

Telford palmed away Sanderson's close-range shot and then athletically tipped Ludlow's 25-yard effort over for a corner.

Arsenal, who won the quadruple last season, continued to carve out a plethora of clear openings but a combination of their own profligacy and Telford's acrobatics kept them at bay.

Telford produced a wonderful double save to deny Scott before Arsenal and England captain Faye White wasted a glorious chance when she headed Carney's cross high and wide from eight yards.

Leeds did have the ball in the net before half-time but Amanda Barr's lob was ruled out for off-side and Arsenal goalkeeper Emma Byrne was forced to claw Sue Smith's corner off the line.

But Arsenal finished the half by regaining control and carried their momentum into the second period.

In the 54th minute Rachel Yankey eased through midfield and slid a pass to Smith, who cleverly turned the ball beyond Telford.

Leeds were visibly tiring and four minutes later Ludlow ghosted in behind their back four to divert Sanderson's free-kick through Telford's legs.

And on the hour mark Sanderson continued her prolific goalscoring form by netting for the 51st time in all competitions, albeit with the help of a deflection.

Leeds were in no mood to be embarrassed and, when a long-range strike from skipper Smith rebounded off the bar, Clarke headed home to give the underdogs hope.

But their quest for a second allowed Arsenal to exploit gaping holes and, while they continued to squander one opportunities, Smith's second ensured the Cup would remain in north London.

Arsenal goalscorer Kelly Smith:
"We were glad the goal came early in the second half and then we could control the tempo of the game.

"We were a little bit frustrated in the first half, we had so many chances to put the game to bed but we didn't although we managed to get the goal in the end.

"Leeds goalkeeper Carly Telford was player of the match for me. She is a great up-and-coming player, very agile and she is soon to be England's number one I am sure."

Arsenal skipper Faye White:
"It's a great feeling, it was an amazing occasion. We are really pleased.

"In the first half we kept knocking but some of the shots were wayward and Carly made a few good saves to keep them in it.

"We said at half-time if we can keep the pressure going the floodgates would open but Leeds scored as well."

Leeds skipper Sue Smith:
"We are disappointed. We came out here to play and we defended quite well but as soon as they scored one the floodgates opened.

"The best team won on the day but we battled and fair play to the girls, they worked so hard.

"It's a great experience for the youngsters to come to a stage like this and perform. It's a big stage and they will learn from it and fingers crossed we will be back next year."

Arsenal: Byrne, Scott, White, Asante, Phillip, Ludlow, Grant (Tracey 74), Carney, Smith, Yankey (Davison 74), Sanderson (Fleeting 74).
Subs Not Used: Spencer, Flaherty.

Goals: Smith 54, Ludlow 59, Sanderson 60, Smith 83.

Leeds: Telford, Houghten, Bradley, Wright (Bonner 86), Culvin (Thackray 80), Walton, Moore (Sutcliffe 60), Holtham, Clarke, Barr, Smith.

Subs Not Used: Higgins, Hutton.

Booked: Culvin.

Goals: Clarke 69.

see also
Women's FA Cup photos
05 May 08 |  Women

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