SUNDERLAND blasted their way into the League Cup final after a stunning 8-0 win against Blackburn Rovers at Eppleton CW yesterday.
Plucky Blackburn never gave up but were overwhelmed by the Premier League leaders who were a class above throughout.
Keira Ramshaw led the way with a hat-trick, with Beth Mead(2), Kelly McDougall, Robin Chidester and Sophie Williams also on target.
The visitors started well and tried to take the game to Sunderland from the first whistle, but the home side soon took a firm grip on the game.
Rachel Furness forced keeper Krystal Parker into a diving save after five minutes, and two minutes later Sunderland were ahead thanks to a brilliant finish from Mead.
Ellie Christon found the returning striker on the edge of the penalty area. With her back to goal, Mead swivelled to hit a superb volley over the keeper and into the net.
Becky Salicki went close to a second, heading down from a corner and seeing the ball bounce over the bar.
Mead twice went close again before the home side increased their lead in the 31st minute. McDougall and Natalie Gutteridge combined well through the middle to release Ramshaw, who sidestepped her marker to slot home from inside the box.
Sunderland were rampant and killed the game off with a two-goal burst in as many minutes.
Mead chased a long ball down and as she broke into the box she was tripped. The referee pointed to the spot, and McDougall coolly converted the penalty.
The fourth goal came in the 38th minute. Sunderland won possession from the restart and the ball was played over the top for Ramshaw to run onto and lift the ball over the keeper from the angle of the box.
Rovers bravely tried to pressure the home side at the start of the second half but were easily repelled by the home defence.
The Lady Black Cats again stepped up the pace and extended their lead after 57 minutes. McDougall received the ball from the busy Furness and split the visiting defence with a superb through ball for Williams to run and strike goalward. Parker could only parry the ball into the path of Mead, who gleefully accepted the chance from close in.
Furness, McDougall and Ramshaw combined well to set up Robin Chidester, who shrugged off the defender but her shot was well saved by Parker.
The sixth goal arrived after 65 minutes as Furness brought the ball through for McDougall to shoot but the effort was blocked, only for Chidester to smash home the rebound.
It was seven after 73 minutes as Chidester broke through the middle and the ball was switched across to the left for Williams to run clear and lift the ball cleverly over the advancing Parker and into the far corner of the net.
The rout was completed in the final minute when persistence on the right by Chidester won the ball and as it was delivered into the middle Ramshaw reacted quickly to drive the ball home and complete her hat-trick.
Manager Mick Mulhern was delighted with the display.
“We prepared very well for today and that was the key,” he said. “We were excellent and I’m delighted to be in another cup final. The girls deserve it after their hard work.”
Sunderland will now face Leeds Utd Ladies in the final at Northampton on Sunday, May 6. Leeds won 2-0 at Coventry in the other semi-final yesterday.
This Sunday, the Lady Black Cats will look to win the Premier League title. They need to win at Cardiff to overhaul leaders Leeds, who have already completed their league programme.
Sunderland: Laws, Christon, Salicki, Greenwell, Devine, Ramshaw, McDougall, Furness, Williams (Halliday), Gutteridge (Lee), Mead (Chidester).