Conor Clancy Date: 31st May 2021 at 12:22am
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MAPEI STADIUM (Reggio Emilia) – beat on penalties in Sunday’s Femminile final at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia, getting their hands on their first-ever piece of silverware after.

With each side competing in their first-ever final, the trophy was always going to have a new name engraved on it this year, but it was Betty Bavagnoli’s Giallorosse who best kept their cool to edge the shootout.

There was nothing separating the sides after 120 eventful and enjoyable minutes, despite each of the two sides having chances that they would have hoped to do more with.

Milan gave a scare with barely 30 seconds on the clock. Natasha Dowie somehow found space behind the Giallorosse’s line of defence but, through on Camelia Caesar’s goal the English forward was only able to send her lifted effort wide.

Much of the first half was played at a decent pace despite there not being too many clear chances, but each side had opportunities to get themselves in front.

and Dowie looked to combine with swift one-touch interplay when the ball made its way towards them, with Giacinti often dropping deeper as a link between midfield and her strike partner.

Annamaria Serturini was the most direct threat that the Rossonere had to watch out for, while Andressa Alves was the player getting on the ball more than any other and looking to dictate play.

As far as chances were concerned, Milan came close through Refiloe Jane who had her curling effort punched clear by Caesar, while Paloma Lazaro turned a near-post flick into the side netting from a corner. Lindsey Thomas also had a penalty appeal waved away after going to ground when Milan’s Laura Fusetti slid in.

The Rossonere continued to find themselves thwarted by the offside flag in the second half, with Giacinti first and then Valentina Bergamaschi being pulled back. The No.9 was quick to point out to the assistant that her first of the second half was the third time all night she’d been flagged for going too soon, largely due to Allyson Swaby and Elena Linari’s excellent defensive work, stepping up at just the right time.

As legs grew tired, both coaches switched things up and both Dowie and Andressa Alves were replaced, having played important roles. The latter, in particular, had been excellent and central to everything the Giallorosse had looked to create.

Swaby’s superb night continued into extra time, after the initial 90 minutes had ended scoreless. A low Claudia Mauri cross was fizzed across Roma’s six-yard box and the No.25 somehow managed to lift it over her own crossbar and behind for a corner, from which Linda Tucceri Cimini struck the woodwork.

Milan continued to be a threat with swift counterattacks, and Laura Sylvie Agard got in behind on the end of a straight, long ball. Rather than shooting, though, she turned out of the area and the chance disappeared, with Agnese Bonfantini carrying clear for the Giallorosse.

With just five minutes of extra time to play, Roma’s hearts were in their mouths. Caesar had to parry two shots within no more than 10 seconds of each other, and the Rossonere then had penalty appeals waved away as they claimed a handball.

Somehow there was still time for more. Roma pushed at the other end and Serturini headed a cross back across goal that was only half-cleared to the arriving Bernauer but she could only drag her effort wide.

It wasn’t to be settled in 120 minutes though, and so penalties it was.

Milan went first in the shootout, but Veronica Boquete’s tame effort was saved and Manuela Giugliano made no mistake to give Roma the advantage. Agard and Serturini both scored next, and then Christy Louise Grimshaw and Elena Linari both missed.

Linda Tucceri Cimini missed Milan’s fourth, allowing Bernauer the chance to win it. Making no mistake, she slotted home to seal the win for the Giallorosse.