Man United winger Leah Galton admits her side were fueled by a 'little bit of hate' as they exacted revenge against Chelsea to set up an FA Cup final showdown with Spurs

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Manchester United winger Leah Galton says her side’s first ever victory against Chelsea was fuelled by a ‘little bit of hate’ as the Reds reached the FA Cup final at the expense of Emma Hayes’ side.

United are preparing for the final against Tottenham at a sold-out Wembley tomorrow, but many at the club would never have dreamt of making it past Hayes’s dominant team.

They had faced them 11 times in all competitions beforehand, drawing once and losing the other 10. A particularly painful defeat came in the FA Cup final last year, when Chelsea picked up the trophy for the third consecutive season and dashed United’s hopes of their first silverware.

Speaking to Mail Sport, Galton describes the semi-final thriller at Leigh Sports Village as ‘almost like a final’ because of the hype before the game.

‘It seemed everything was against us,’ says the 29-year-old. ‘We were playing a team we’d never beaten. Chelsea were on form and doing well in all competitions and I think you always secretly have a little bit of hate towards a team that you’ve never beaten, because you want to beat them so bad.’

Leah Galton(left) admitted Man United were seeking revenge when they pulled off a historic victory against Chelsea to reach the FA Cup final

Leah Galton(left) admitted Man United were seeking revenge when they pulled off a historic victory against Chelsea to reach the FA Cup final

Leah Galton(left) admitted Man United were seeking revenge when they pulled off a historic victory against Chelsea to reach the FA Cup final

Lucia Garcia got United off to a dream start at Leigh Sports Village, netting after just 1 minute

Lucia Garcia got United off to a dream start at Leigh Sports Village, netting after just 1 minute

Beat them they did, with United going two goals ahead before Lauren James pulled one back on the stroke of half time. This time history did not repeat itself, though, and United hung on to their 2-1 lead until the final whistle.

For Galton, who has been at United since the women’s team’s inception in 2018 — helping them up from the Championship into the WSL and now on the cusp of FA Cup glory — the semi-final victory was draining, physically and mentally.

‘There was so much passion. I’ve never seen our team defend and run like in that game. The GPS stats were through the roof because everybody was putting a shift in,’ she says.

‘It was such an emotional rollercoaster and then I was on a big comedown all week because we’d won and then we had to prep for another game (in the league). It took a lot out of me.’

Galton was United’s joint top scorer alongside Alessia Russo in the league last season with 10 goals, and it’s certain her name would be more widely known if she ever took up the offer to play for the Lionesses. 

Galton was United's joint-top scorer last season and has previously rejected approaches to play international football for the Lionesses

Galton was United's joint-top scorer last season and has previously rejected approaches to play international football for the Lionesses

Described as ‘one of the best wingers in the world’ by her manager Marc Skinner, Galton came through the England youth set-up and has been capped from the Under 15s right through to the Under 23s, before making herself unavailable for the senior team from 2018, citing her desire for a better work-life balance. 

This is a position that she has reiterated to England boss Sarina Wiegman, saying in the past: ‘I’m not going away and travelling on international camps, so I have time off and have that time to be a normal person, in a sense. It worries me a little bit that if I change that, I wouldn’t have that balance right. I’m happy doing what I’m doing.’

Seconds after kick-off in that Chelsea semi-final, she flew down the left and her perfectly executed cross found team-mate Lucia Garcia at the back post to open the scoring for the home side.

Her work rate was typically high, with the fans applauding her relentless tracking back and defensive efforts.

One thing Galton wants to stress is that United are not complacent about their Cup final opposition. Robert Vilahamn’s Tottenham have enjoyed a fine season, with the Swedish manager implementing an Ange-style attacking revolution.

The 29-year-old insisted United will not be taking Spurs lightly in the FA Cup final later this month

The 29-year-old insisted United will not be taking Spurs lightly in the FA Cup final later this month

Spurs are sixth in the table, seven points behind United with a game in hand. And although United have never lost in the sides’ 10 meetings, their most recent clash suggests the gap is wafer-thin.

‘Spurs are a great team. Obviously we’ve just played them in the league and drew 2-2, a close game which we could have lost if we hadn’t scored at the very end,’ says Galton. ‘But that’s good because it kind of grounds us and it shows us that we have to turn up on the day. Now we know we can do that (knock out Chelsea), I expect nothing less when we go into the final.’

This is the first time in 12 years that a team outside the ‘Big Three’ — Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal — will have their name on the trophy, since Birmingham’s win in 2012.

‘It’s huge for women’s football,’ adds Galton. ‘It’s nice because it used to be the top three and it’s getting a lot tighter now.

‘It’s us against Spurs, which hasn’t happened before (in a final), and I think it’s going to keep happening more often.’

And while Galton says United have only had an ‘OK’ season in the league, lifting the cup would change the narrative.

Galton added winning the FA Cup would be the perfect way of altering perceptions of the club's season

Galton added winning the FA Cup would be the perfect way of altering perceptions of the club's season

‘People expect a lot,’ she says. ‘I get it because we expect a lot from ourselves, but it doesn’t quite work like that sometimes.

‘It’s been an OK season but if we can now go to Wembley and win — something we’ve never done before — all of a sudden it would be a great season to everyone else.’

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