Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea Women: 3 takeaways, Hampton and James steer Blues into Conti Cup final

In her return to the lineup, Lauren James picked up her first goal since January while Hannah Hampton acted as a literal wall at the back to launch Chelsea Women into its fifth consecutive Conti Cup final.
Manchester City v Chelsea - FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Semi Final
Manchester City v Chelsea - FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Semi Final / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages
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Not perfect, but gutsy. That is the best way to describe it. "The improbable" is still very much alive and well. Less than three weeks ago, Chelsea Women fell at the hands of Manchester City at Kingsmeadow. On Thursday, it squashed any thought Gareth Taylor, his team, and their fans at Joie Stadium had of a domestic treble.

By no means was that a stress-free 90 minutes of football, particularly in the second half. In cup competitions, it's all about surviving and advancing. That's all you can do, especially when the club's injury list continues to expand week after week.

Captained by a brilliant Emma Hayes gameplan out of possession in the first half, Chelsea Women took advantage of a Manchester City mistake to net the lone goal that propelled it into the cup final. Like Erin Cuthbert was punished in the league, one Man City mishap trying to play out the back within the first 10 minutes made all the difference in the end.

The Scot pounced on the error, finding Mayra Ramirez who drove forward with purpose before laying the ball off for Lauren James. The English star beat an in-form Khiara Keating at her near post thanks to an Alex Greenwood deflection. No. 10 in blue did not waste any time in her return to the lineup after suspension, converting a chance for the first time since her double away at Brighton and Hove Albion in January.

After a first half in which the west Londoners controlled the match for the most part with a compact, out-of-possession approach, Taylor's team came out with guns blazing for the second 45. Chelsea was content without the ball, something it owned in the previous fixture in London. Hayes' crew had just 36 percent of the ball last night compared to the 61 percent it had a few weeks ago. It was a decision that nearly cost them, but when it was all said and done, it just wasn't the home side's day in the final third.

"We scored early and I thought we defended really well. Unbelievable performance for Hannah Hampton," Hayes explained. "We only had one registered center back and one center forward. We were pretty thin this evening so it's a tremendous result for the team."

Khadija Shaw and Lauren Hemp were unlucky not to put away at least one chance in front of their fans. Hannah Hampton was a rock wall between the sticks while Eve Perisset among others came in at vital times to clear the ball to safety. Despite testing the goalkeeper on 10 separate occasions, City was held without a goal for just the second game this campaign. Hayes' side moves on to another Conti Cup final in which it will encounter Arsenal. It'll be the third affair at this stage of the competition between these two London rivals in the last five seasons. That match will be on March 31 at the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Molineux Stadium.

Trips to Manchester are always testing, but with a berth to a cup final on the line, the side from England's capital battled it out. Here is a look at what we took away from the contest.

3 takeaways from Chelsea's first triumph over Manchester City this season