Khiara Keating gets a hand to a Beth Mead corner that Arsenal claimed had crossed the line.Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters
There was redemption at Meadow Park for the goalkeeper Khiara Keating as Manchester City won 1-0 and knocked the 14-time FA Cup winners Arsenal out in the fifth round.
Keating weathered taunts from the home crowd and a late Arsenal charge, including pulling off a stunning save from a Victoria Pelova header destined for the top corner, pushing over Lotte Wubben-Moy’s effort and clawing away a set-piece that looked to have crossed the line, all in added time, to atone for her errors for both goals in City’s 2-1 defeat here in the Women’s Super League in November that left her in tears.
Related: Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City: Women’s FA Cup – as it happened
“She got a lot of stick when she came here last year,” the City manager, Gareth Taylor, said. “For a young player to go through that and come through with a clean sheet is the reason why we love the game.”
There was no VAR or goalline technology to show definitively whether Beth Mead’s corner had finally caught out Keating in the final minutes of added time and she looked a little sheepish as she clutched the ball and Arsenal protested that the ball had crossed the line.
“I don’t know,” Taylor said, on whether it had. “I always tell the players to play to the whistle.”
Jonas Eidevall, the Arsenal manager, said: “Right now we are very disappointed. In the end there are small margins, maybe that is over the line, whether there is a penalty or not with a challenge where there is no ball … those are difficult decisions to deal with right now but our job now is to control what we can control.”
Arsenal were drawn against WSL title rivals in the fifth round for the second consecutive campaign, having been knocked out by Chelsea at the same stage last year, and it was Laia Aleixandri’s poked in effort that eliminated them this time.
There is no love lost between these two sides this season with Taylor having accused Eidevall of bullying the fourth official in his team’s 2-1 defeat against Arsenal in the league. Eidevall called it “borderline slander” in the aftermath but said he had moved past it before kick-off in the cup and “hadn’t thought about it”.
There was no fraternal element to action on the pitch at Meadow Park even if the frustrations off it had been put to one side, this was a feisty encounter, and Wubben‑Moy was lucky to escape punishment for an elbow into the head of Khadija Shaw inside the box – a challenge not too dissimilar to the one for which Aston Villa’s Rachel Daly received a retrospective three-match ban.
Shaw bore the brunt of Arsenal attentions, while Katie McCabe and Lauren Hemp fought for dominance on City’s right wing, metaphorically and literally – having fouled Hemp, McCabe nudged the England forward a little too many times with her shoulder provoking a reactive shove that sent McCabe to the ground theatrically.
That the game reached the break without a card having been brandished was perhaps the most interesting talking point at half‑time, with scrappy passing and turnovers and few chances. The best had fallen to Caitlin Foord, who provided the only shot on target of the half when she cut inside from the left but her effort was straight at Keating.
Things began to open up in the second half and with Arsenal pressing much higher the chances started coming at both ends, but after City’s biggest threat, Shaw, had been withdrawn with an injury, they would take the lead from a set-piece, Aleixandri poking in after the substitute Steph Catley failed to clear.
Keating was on hand to keep City ahead as the clock ticked down, grasping Mead’s effort straight at her, acrobatically pushing away Pelova’s header from the top corner and saving from Wubben-Moy.
There would be one more moment of drama, with Mead’s corner swung goalwards and the keeper seemingly grabbing it after it had crossed the line. There were protests but no goal was given and City condemned Arsenal to back-to-back defeats.
Holders Chelsea took one step closer to securing a fourth straight FA Cup crown with a 1-0 victory over Championship side Crystal Palace at Kingsmeadow thanks to a superb maiden goal from January signing Mayra Ramírez.
Emma Hayes had initially changed all 11 players from the side that beat Sunderland 5-0 in their midweek Conti Cup clash, but Fran Kirby returned as a replacement for Lauren James, who was a late withdrawal from the line-up.
It was a valiant performance from Palace, who held the hosts to a goalless draw for 81 minutes when Ramirez opened her Blues account with a brilliant backheeled flick to book her side another trip into the last eight.
There were wild scenes at Wolverhampton when Beth Merrick’s 67th-minute penalty for Wolves – one of two third-tier sides remaining – cancelled out Katie Robinson’s first-half opener for relegation-threatened WSL side Brighton.
The teams remained on level terms until Emma Kullberg’s first-ever goal for Brighton fired the Seagulls into an 88th-minute lead before the Sweden international then completed her hat-trick inside a stunning eight minutes.
Manchester United, last season’s runners-up, claimed a 3-1 victory over Championship outfit Southampton, with Rachel Williams heading home twice after Lexi Lloyd-Smith had cancelled out Ella Toone’s eighth-minute opener.
Kit Graham’s low, long-range effort in the 76th minute of Tottenham’s 1-0 victory over Charlton spelled the end of the Championship leaders’ cup run, while goals from Sophie Roman Haug and Melissa Lawley secured Liverpool a 2-0 win over London City Lionesses. PA Media
The result takes City’s winning run to 10 and they sit three points ahead of Arsenal in the league and three behind the leaders Chelsea.
Taylor said: “Any slight slip up in a cup competition you are done. The WSL is like a cup competition where you have to be flawless, we have positioned ourselves really well.”
For Eidevall, having endured a third league defeat of the season last weekend and having been knocked out of the FA Cup, the prospects for silverware are narrowing. “I can’t allow myself to grieve and stay in that mode for very long,” he said. “I need to look forward and see what we were doing well today so we can take that forward.”