Laia Aleixandri earned Manchester City a spot in the Women’s FA Cup quarter-finals with a second-half winner against Arsenal.
The Gunners came into the fifth-round contest hoping to bounce back from a first-ever Women’s Super League loss to West Ham, but could not find the finishing touch at Meadow Park as they crashed out 1-0.
A scrappy first half gave way to a more open second period with chances for both sides, WSL leading goalscorer Khadija Shaw seeing two headed efforts kept out, first by Arsenal keeper Sabrina D’Angelo then by defender Leah Williamson in her second start since returning from a long-term anterior cruciate ligament recovery.
Shaw, in a worrying sight for City boss Gareth Taylor, was forced off and replaced by Mary Fowler in the 67th minute, shortly before Gunners substitute Steph Catley failed to clear Chloe Kelly’s free-kick and Spain international Aleixandri pounced, poking in the 74th-minute winner.
Khiara Keating’s stunning series of saves against a late Arsenal surge preserved the visiting side’s lead, and while the Gunners felt the City keeper had not saved a last-ditch effort from a scramble before it crossed the line, the officials disagreed.
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 a superb maiden goal from January signing Mayra Ramirez.
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.
Wolves’ exit meant Nottingham Forest were the only tier-three hopefuls remaining in the competition, but the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division side were also eliminated after losing 7-1 to Everton in the late kick-off, five of the Toffees’ goals coming in the second half.