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Lia Walti praises Arsenal for ‘taking momentum’ from Villa in Conti Cup semis

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LIA WALTI hailed her Arsenal team-mates for playing Aston Villa “into the ground” in the Conti Cup semi-finals.

Stina Blackstenius stole the show as Arsenal stormed their way into the final by thrashing their opponents 4-0 on Wednesday night.

Stina Blackstenius's first-half hat-trick put the Gunners in cruise control during their Conti Cup clash with Aston Villa

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Stina Blackstenius’s first-half hat-trick put the Gunners in cruise control during their Conti Cup clash with Aston VillaCredit: Getty
Lia Walti impressed in midfield alongside Kyra Cooney-Cross with the hosts pinning Villa back for large parts of the first 40 minutes

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Lia Walti impressed in midfield alongside Kyra Cooney-Cross with the hosts pinning Villa back for large parts of the first 40 minutesCredit: PA
Frida Maanum got in on the scoring netting Arsenal's third goal in the game

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Frida Maanum got in on the scoring netting Arsenal’s third goal in the gameCredit: PA

Two early goals in two minutes were among the efforts for the Swede at Meadow Park.

And she bagged a first-half hat-trick during her side’s ruthless attacking shift.

Walti revealed Jonas Eidevall’s aces had watched Arsenal men’s 6-0 trouncing of Sheffield United in the Premier League on Monday.

And the WSL aces were eager to register a high-scoring triumph in last night’s game.

The Switzerland midfielder, who made her 150th appearance for the Gunners in the match, said: “We all watched the men’s game a couple of days ago.

“We said we’d like to be a little bit more comfortable at half-time.

“We wanted to go (hard) from the start, run them over and the ball went in at the right time and then we took the momentum from Aston Villa.

“We used the spaces they gave to us, and we were efficient in front of the ball in the first half and that made a difference.

“You could just see the fresh legs in the team and we have such a good competition with Stina and Frida (Maanum) coming in and Kyra (Cooney-Cross) and Leah (Williamson).

“They’re great players, they kind of can push the team for a better performance.

“You could feel that we played them (Villa) into the ground, and they didn’t really have a chance.”

The victory saw Arsenal reach back-to-back Women’s League Cup finals for the first time under head coach Eidevall.

It also means a silverware double is still in their sights with the team just three points behind Chelsea and Manchester City in the top tier.

Of the victory, Eidevall said: “We want to compete in every competition we are in.

“Every competition we are in is very important and we do our best to win it.

“We are happy to be in a final because that is the starting point when you want to win trophies.

“Of course, going into finals is steps in the right direction.

“It doesn’t mean we are fully developed yet but you can see with the (crowd) attendances we draw, we compete and go to (cup) finals.

“We are competing in the league (for the title), these are positive signs and we can be encouraged and keep building on them, not just this year but for the future.”

Eidevall opted to make four changes to the side that beat Tottenham at the Emirates in the WSL on Sunday.

Leah Williamson, Frida Maanum, Blackstenius and Kyra Cooney-Cross all started with Laia Codina, Victoria Pelova, Caitlin Foord and skipper Kim Little on the bench.  

And Villa were without first choice keeper Daphne van Domselaar with Anna Leat in between the sticks and Gunners’ loanee Noelle Maritz cup-tied.

The hosts got off to a flier with a ninth-miunte opener via Blackstenius blasting the ball high into the net over Leat.

It took the Swede two minutes to double Arsenal’s lead in with a tap-in much to delight of the home crowd.

Villa, who seemed stunned by the scoreline, found themselves going 3-0 down with 18 minutes when Frida Maanum swept in a top-corner shot.

And Katie McCabe almost made it four crashing the woodwork a little later before Blackstenius flicked a shot home close to half-time.

The second half saw Villa shuffle their deck with Simone Magill coming on in place of Alisha Lehmann.

Jonas Eidevall's side will face either Manchester City or Chelsea in the contest's final on March 31

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Jonas Eidevall’s side will face either Manchester City or Chelsea in the contest’s final on March 31Credit: Getty

And they came close to pulling a goal back with McCabe forced to clear a low dangerous cross from Ebony Salmon over the crossbar.

Shots of “we want five” rang out from fans towards the closing stages with the Gunners seeing out the game with a clean sheet.

Tonight will see either Man City or Chelsea claim the remaining spot in this year’s Conti Cup decider with the rivals going toe-to-toe in the contest’s second semi-final.

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