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Arsenal Retain Conti Cup: Extra Time Winner, Manager Clash & Player Collapse

Arsenal emerged victorious at Molineux Stadium having beaten London rivals Chelsea for the second successive year in the Continental Cup Final.

Arsenal's leading goalscorer Stina Blackstenius struck once again, giving the Gunners the lead in the 26th minute of extra time. Chelsea had little time to comeback before the final whistle, granting Arsenal their 10th League Cup.

This season's Conti Cup Final was an extremely even game of football, making for a very entertaining close to the Conti Cup this season.

The stats prove this, with Arsenal having 13 shots, 6 of which were on target, and Chelsea having 15 shots, 3 of which were on target. The possession was almost exactly even, with Arsenal having 51% and Chelsea having 49%.

It looked as though Chelsea put themselves ahead, as Mayra Ramirez scored from range. However, VAR ruled the goal out due to a deliberate handball by Erin Cuthbert in the build-up.

The 90 minutes ended 0-0, forcing the game into extra time.

Arsenal took charge in extra time, with Chelsea's goalkeeper Hannah Hampton being kept active. Stina Blackstenius redeemed herself after an earlier missed chance, scoring in the 116th minute, sealing the Cup for Arsenal.

Play was stopped for 7 minutes before the end of the second half as Arsenal midfielder Frida Maanum collapsed off the ball.

After Maanum was carried down the tunnel on a stretcher, wearing an oxygen mask, it was announced that she was conscious, talking and stable. Although, the fans have yet to be made aware of what caused Maanum to collapse.

For the Arsenal players, seeing their teammate go down suddenly without contact would have been a big scare. All 22 players on the pitch must have incredibly strong mindsets in order to continue the match after an incident like that, and it undoubtedly would have affected them all on the pitch.

Alessia Russo said in an interview after the game, "Obviously it's devastating to see one of your teammates go down like that. We're all wishing, praying she's okay. It was written in the stars that her best mate (Stina Blackstenius) scored the winner for her. So yeah, obviously Frida is a massive player and plays with every single bit of her body, and she did that today. We just hope she's okay."

This match marked what could be the last clash between Emma Hayes and Jonas Eidevall, as Hayes is set to depart Chelsea at the end of the season to take over the USA Women's National Team.

However, their rivalry ended bitterly, with tensions boiling over after the final whistle. Emma Hayes was displeased with Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall's behaviour on the touchline, stating "I don't think we should tolerate male aggression like we did today", "fronting up or squaring up to a player is unacceptable."

Eidevall explained the reason for his frustration on the touchline, as before the game, the two teams chose not to use a multi-ball system, as Chelsea had requested the single-ball system, with the sides deciding to stick with using the same football throughout the entire match. However, as Chelsea were searching for a last-minute equaliser, Erin Cuthbert picked up a different ball to take a throw in, in order to take the throw quicker, which is not what the teams had agreed upon.

Jonas Eidevall said "In this situation, Arsenal said multi-ball, Chelsea said one ball. The decision was to play the final on a one ball system", "The ball goes out of play, the Chelsea player wants a new ball to take a quick throw-in and I said 'we play with only one ball and you guys were the ones who decided that'", "Obviously it drives all kinds of emotions in there nothing more, nothing less. I can't see that I did anything, had any form of contact with anyone - either a player or coach. That was it."

With an international break immediately after the Conti Cup Final, Arsenal had limited time to celebrate their triumph, as most of the Gunners' squad set off to represent their home countries.

In their next league games, Arsenal host doomed Bristol City on the 14th April as Chelsea host mid-table Aston Villa on the 17th April. Chelsea will continue to push for the Women's Super League title, battling Manchester City for the top spot, as they hope to win the treble after Arsenal denied them of the opportunity to win the quadruple.

For Arsenal, the Continental League Cup was the only piece of silverware they could have achieved this year, having been knocked out of the Champions League in the qualifying stages, knocked out of the FA Cup in the fifth round by Manchester City, and trailing the WSL leaders by six points with only four game-weeks left to play. The Gunners grabbed the opportunity with both hands, playing their hardest against a tough opposition and emerging victorious, taking home the League Cup for a second successive season.

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