Chelsea claim advantage in title race, Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur

Guro Reiten
Guro Reiten

Chelsea secured a vital advantage in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League title race with a dominant win over league leaders Arsenal at Meadow Park.

Sam Kerr scored her first goal since joining the club, while Beth England and Sophie Ingle both netted wonder strikes, leaving Arsenal’s perfect home record in tatters inside 20 minutes.

Guro Reiten added a fourth before Beth Mead netted a consolation goal for the Gunners.

Chelsea were dominant throughout, and opened the scoring after just ten minutes through England’s moment of magic.

The Chelsea striker pulled out to the right, cut inside Louise Quinn and curled a beauty past Manuela Zinsberger from the corner of the box.

Just three minutes later the visitors doubled their lead, Kerr left unmarked at the back post to meet a Jonna Anderson cross and head in her first Barclays FA WSL goal.

Arsenal looked shell-shocked, and there was more to come, Ingle striking a sensational 20-yard volley into the corner of the net when the ball fell to her after a free kick.

Kerr and England both had glorious chances to add to their tallies, but both failed to hit the target from close range.

Reiten then extended the lead with a glancing header midway through the second half to put the game completely beyond doubt.

At the other end, the champions barely mustered a shot in the first half, their best effort coming when Katie McCabe forced Ann-Katrin Berger into a save with her feet.

After the break they showed signs of improvement, and finally pulled one back when Mead’s header was spilled over the line by Berger.

But the damage had been done by then, with Joe Montemurro’s side beaten at home for the first time in a year.

The win takes Chelsea to within a point of Arsenal and Manchester City, with a game in hand over their two title rivals, who meet each other in two weeks.

To follow the action, buy tickets and sign-up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com

Arsenal captain Kim Little said: “We’re very disappointed with our performance, and how we played in the first half especially, but I think credit has to go to Chelsea, they turned up from the beginning of the match, we made mistakes and they scored some very good goals and outperformed us.

“We had to pull ourselves together after 20 minutes, to be compact and make sure we were working as a team, because at the start of the game there were lots of spaces for them, and they took advantage of that.

“They have great players, and they made it very hard for us, got tight to us, gave us very little time, myself personally didn’t do well enough to get out of that at times. They did very well to keep us off the pace in the middle. It’s what I expected, it’s no different to any other game against Chelsea.

“With us, Chelsea and Man City these games are crucial, and today was one of those, but it’s also only one game within the whole season, so we need to look at it in that sesne. There’s big games still to play and it’s still very tight at the top, so it’s disappointing and frustrating right now, in the moment, but we’ll reflect and it’ll give us a realisation of how to be better and how to up our game.”

Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson said: “The first half was one of the best halves we’ve ever played. Really clinical, scoring from our chances early on, and then we could just see the game out. I think we could have had a better performance second half, but they were going forward with everything they had, so it’s an amazing result and I’m really, really pleased.

“We’ve built up to this. We’ve had a few games now where the luck hasn’t really been on our side and luck is something you build up, and today we had three amazing goals in the first half. We’ve been working really hard on those kind of goals, as well, it’s not just by chance that they came, there’s hard work behind it.

“Coming to any team, we aren’t afraid. We are the best team in England, and we really believe that, and we know that we can compete with any team. And we just have that belief, that we’re on the front foot from the start. It’s so important, we don’t come to a place like this and start dropping off, and being afraid. We show no respect, and we have huge belief in this team.

“Sam [Kerr] proved today what an amazing player she is. She’s also an amazing team player, she works so hard for the team defensively, she wins the ball, she’s good in the air, good in behind. I could tell you everything - she’s good at everything! So she’s come into the team and made a difference, and she really deserved that goal. She’s had a few chances to score, and we all said ‘save it for Arsenal.'

“This result will only be a springboard if we make it one. If we, from now on, put in this type of performance in every game, there’s no way we’re not going to win the league in my opinion. Wherever we go we have to play like today. It’s not the big games we’ve struggled in, it’s going away and playing the teams where we should win, those are the teams we’ve struggled with. So it’s about treating every game like this, and then I’m confident we’re going to come out on top of the league.”

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Manuela Zinsberger; Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Leah Williamson, Louise Quinn, Katie McCabe; Lia Walti, Kim Little; Danielle van de Donk, Jill Roord, Jordan Nobbs; Vivianne Miedema

Substitutes: Lisa Evans for Quinn 58, Beth Mead for Nobbs 58

Substitutes not used: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Leonie Maier, Melisa Filis, Ruby Grant,

Goals: Mead 74

Bookings: McCabe 36

Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Ann-Katrin Berger; Maren Mjelde, Millie Bright, Magdelena Eriksson, Jonna Andersson; Sophie Ingle; Erin Cuthbert, Ji So-yun, Guro Reiten; Sam Kerr, Bethany England.

Substitutes: Hannah Blundell for Reiten 81, Drew Spence for Kerr 85

Substitutes not used: Carly Telford, Deanna Cooper, Jamie-Lee Napier, Ramona Bachmann, Jessica Carter

Goals: England 10, Kerr 13, Ingle 20, Reiten 68

Bookings: Mjelde 64

Referee: Abigail Byrne

Attendance: 4,000

Manchester United 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Katie Zelem’s brace ensured Manchester United were victorious against Tottenham Hotspur at a cold and foggy Leigh Sports’ Village.

The 23-year-old notched her first from the penalty spot just before the hour mark, after Hayley Ladd went to ground.

Jess Sigsworth doubled the advantage seven minutes later, before Zelem got her second late on to see the Red Devils return to winning ways.

United started on the front foot and Jackie Groenen should have hit the target after the Spurs defence fluffed a clearance from Leah Galton’s cross.

On the half-hour, Spurs’ first shot on goal nearly paid dividends, as Josie Green struck a long-range effort that Mary Earps managed to tip onto the crossbar.

Both teams were much improved after the break and a golden opportunity fell to Spurs’ Rianna Dean but Earps pulled out a top-class save to keep her out.

It was a chance the visitors would rue as referee Edward Duckworth pointed to the spot after Ladd was felled in the penalty area for the Red Devils, and Zelem stepped up to calmly slot into the bottom corner to put the home side ahead.

With the deadlock broken, United notched again soon after. Zelem’s corner evaded everyone and landed at the feet of Sigsworth who made no mistake from six yards out.

Tottenham were still striving to get back in the game, as Emma Mitchell hit the crossbar with a left-footed piledriver.

Then Dean struck the woodwork after being played in by a pinpoint long ball by Anna Filbey, the striker rounded Earps but couldn’t fire home from a tight angle.

Zelem put the icing on the cake with a late free-kick as United took all three points, although the home side’s Ella Toone saw red in a late coming together.

To follow the action, buy tickets and sign-up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com

Manchester United striker Jess Sigsworth said: “We knew we had to be patient to stay in there. We don’t need to force it forward all the time and I think we controlled the ball well.

“Mary [Earps] made some great saves at 0-0 which changed the game and then when we came out second half, we knew we could beat them and got the three goals.

“I think the first half they were quite closed and made it difficult for us and forced us out wide, I think at 0-0 they probably came out in the second half and wanted to get that goal.

“They left it more open for us and we’ve got pace and power in wide areas and I think we exploited it well.

“Zela [Katie Zelem] put in some great balls today and I could have got on the end of a few more but it dropped down right at my feet and I just toe-poked it in. I didn’t even think about it.”

Spurs right-back Ashleigh Neville said: “We went in at half-time with things that we could still improve on, but it was fine, it was 0-0 and the second half was there for the taking but the second half proved that we didn’t take our chances and they did and that was the end result of the game.”

“We knew that we needed to keep it tight and we knew that if we could grab a goal that would be great but it didn’t work out that way in the end.

“They are a really good team, a great team. But it is a hard one to take to come all this way and to work so hard but I don’t think 3-0 reflects the game.”

“We’ve got the FA Cup next week and then the week after is another big game, we’ve got Bristol City at home and they’re the team that are below us and we need to keep pushing against those teams that are in and around us.”

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Mary Earps; Kirsty Smith, Millie Turner, Abbie McManus, Amy Turner; Hayley Ladd, Katie Zelem (c); Leah Galton, Jackie Groenen, Jess Sigsworth; Jane Ross.

Substitutes: Kirsty Hanson for Ross 62, Ella Toone for Groenen 78, Martha Harris for Millie Turner 79.

Substitutes not used: Emily Ramsey, Lotta Okvist, Lizzie Arnot.

Goals: Zelem 58, 87, Sigsworth 65

Bookings: Galton 45+2

Red Cards: Toone 90+5

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Chloe Morgan; Ashleigh Neville, Hannah Godfrey, Anna Filbey, Emma Mitchell; Angela Addison, Josie Green (c), Ria Percival; Lucy Quinn; Gemma Davison; Rianna Dean.

Substitutes: Kit Graham for Addison 56, Rosella Ayane for Quinn 60, Lucia Leon for Filbey 82.

Substitutes not used: Megan Drew, Jenna Schillaci, Chloe Peplow, Siri Worm.

Bookings: Godfrey 86, Percival 90+5

Referee: Edward Duckworth

Attendance: 1,836