Man United 2-1 Chelsea Women, 3 takeaways: poor start leads to shock FA Cup elimination

It wasn't by any means how Emma Hayes drew it up. Thanks to two goals inside the first 30 minutes, Marc Skinner and Manchester United stunned the women's football world, taking down the three-time defending FA Cup champions in the semifinals.
Manchester United v Chelsea - Adobe Women's FA Cup Semi Final
Manchester United v Chelsea - Adobe Women's FA Cup Semi Final / Nathan Stirk/GettyImages
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The majority thought a bounce-back display on the road was in the cards. Due to a lively start by Marc Skinner's Manchester United, Chelsea Women watched an opportunity to finish Emma Hayes' remarkable tenure with a treble vanish right in front of its eyes.

Two goals inside the first 23 minutes put the West Londoners into a hole they simply could not dig themselves out of no matter how hard they pushed in the second 45. With the defeat, the Blues failed to keep the hopes of becoming just the second club to win four straight FA Cups alive, something Arsenal did between 2005-2009.

Eve Perisset made an uncharacteristic error in the opening 60 seconds, hand-wrapping the Red Devils the lead before many even got situated in their respective seats. It was the relentlessness of Ella Toone and some dreadful marking in the box that did the Blues in for the second. In front of an energetic away environment, against a quality side that feels like it has a lot to prove, sluggish starts more often than not lead to demise. Melanie Leupolz's birthday didn't turn out to be quite as celebratory as Chelsea had hoped.

Lauren James pegged one back just before the end of the first half through some brilliant play by Niamh Charles down the left. You'd think with an entire half of football in front of them with the momentum that goal created the three-time defending FA Cup champions would find a way. Mary Earps and United's defense said, 'This day is ours'. 70 percent of the ball. 26 shots. Only one goal to show for it.

It wasn't just Earps' show-stopping saves that helped keep the Blues out in a second half completely dominated by the London club. The home team was accompanied by a 12th person on the pitch who looked like they were donning red yesterday afternoon: the referee. Kirsty Dowle had a lot to do on Sunday; frankly, she didn't do a good chunk of it right. It wasn't just once, but twice that Dowle ignored a strong penalty shout from the Blues.

It isn't easy to count how many times not only Chelsea but clubs across this league have been hard done by questionable officiating. The technology is there, the FA just needs to make the investment in assistance that these referees have clearly demonstrated they need.

"As a team, we have to do better with that and we gave ourselves a lot to do as a result of it," said Hayes. "Man United changed their game plan, they sat a little bit deeper because of it, we dominated the ball, but it was our turn to be on the receiving end of big referee calls today in the box."

She continued, "That happens and I want to say congratulations to Man United. Their fans and their players put up a great fight and Mary Earps produced world-class saves."