Emma Hayes saluted her team’s performance as ‘Champions-like’ as they overcame their Mancunian rivals. Royal Blue triumphed over Sky Blue for the first-ever double in WSL era, as a tense game ended Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City at Kingsmeadow.
Chelsea shuffled the pack, making two changes. Ann-Katrin Berger replaced Zecira Musovic in goal. The Blues reverted to a 4-person defence with Jess Carter and Jonna Andersson at fullback, with Aniek Nouwen and skipper Millie Bright in the midfield. Sophie Ingle screened them, with Erin Cuthbert and Jessie Fleming playing as mobile No. 8s. Sam Kerr returned to lead the attack, supported by Pernille Harder and Guro Reiten.
Having already triumphed over one Manchester side this week, Chelsea started on the front foot. Blustery conditions made it difficult for defenders as Kerr, Harder and Bright all missed good chances. After just 14 minutes, the home side did break the deadlock from an unlikely source.Embed from Getty Images
Jess Carter’s right-wing cross hung up in the air and Guro Reiten connected to flick into the far corner. Minutes later, another Chelsea corner caused havoc for the nervous City defence, but Jess Park was able to just react in time to clear off the line.
City offered limited attacking threat, but did have a good chance to level later in the half. Jess Park’s excellent control allowed her to unleash a venomous half-volley, but Berger reacted well to push the effort away.
So far, so good for Chelsea’s Chinese New Year match.
Gareth Taylor sent his Manchester City side out with energy in the second half, and Chelsea struggled initially to cope with the intensity. Lauren Hemp was denied by a good block by Millie Bright, before Chelsea thought they should have been awarded a penalty. Erin Cuthbert went down under Lucy Bronze’s challenge but the appeals were waved away by Amy Fearns.Embed from Getty Images
Lauren Hemp again curled over as City searched for the leveller. Chelsea brought Lauren James on for Sam Kerr and her low curled effort was turned away well by Roebuck. The late City flurry saw Berger punch Bronze’s cross away. It landed at Hemp’s feet, but her well-struck half-volley was blocked away by Millie Bright. The seconds ebbed away and the solitary goal decided the contest to end Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City.
Full Time: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester CityEmbed from Getty Images
Final Thoughts: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City
The Blues are just 2 points behind Arsenal and continue their impressive run of clean sheets. Although they had to dig in deep, this was a big 3 points and sealed a first ever league double over the Citizens since the introduction of WSL format.
It’s the big one later this week: Chelsea vs Arsenal at Kingsmeadow. The winner (if there is one) will most likely claim the title.