Chelsea beat Man City to first win of WSL season

Chelsea beat Man City to first win of WSL season
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Chelsea celebrate the goal
Chelsea lost 2-1 to Liverpool in the first game of the Women’s Super League season

Chelsea bounced back from their first-day defeat with a win over rivals Manchester City, who are winless this season.

Fran Kirby hit Guro Reit’s low cross after a quick counterattack by Chelsea to score the opener, much to the delight of a packed Kingsmeadow.

City had the defending champion better for big spells, but some sloppy defense let them down.

Maren Mjelde’s massive free kick after a handball brought the final blow.

England midfielder Kirby has been involved in 34 goals, scoring 21 goals and providing 13 assists in her last 21 WSL games.

Fan favorite Kirby will no doubt once again have impressed England coach Sarina Wiegman, who was watching from the stands, but fellow Lionesses Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly struggled to assert themselves as many of City’s chances came through Khadija Shaw.

Striker Shaw was lively, shooting from long range and maintaining her dominance in the air, while Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger, on duty for the first time since being treated for a recurrence of thyroid cancer, was kept on her toes by Laura Coombs .

Also, Chelsea’s Lauren James could have caught the eye of Wiegman after many predicted she would be the star of the season.

City dominated for most of the first half but a messy defense allowed Kirby to score the opener with the goal timing just before the break, injuring the visitors.

In the second half it was Chelsea who got the upper hand – James drove into the box just behind the halfway line and saw Ellie Roebuck save her shot well, while Kirby had a similar chance to double the lead but shot over the bar .

Leila Ouahabi’s handball that led to the penalty, while soft, was a just reward for Chelsea’s second-half dominance.

The hosts are now unbeaten in 11 WSL games against City, winning five and drawing six.

Chelsea show why they are defending champions

After Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat by newly promoted Liverpool in the season opener, manager Emma Hayes said her side “couldn’t hit a barn door”.

They missed another chance in the first half. Sam Kerr should have scored in the first minute, but Kirby’s cut-back just missed the goal.

Then, as Kerr latched on to Steph Houghton’s loose pass back to Roebuck, Chelsea seemed confident of breaking the deadlock. The chance was missed, however, when Kerr passed to Kirby instead of shooting herself and the England midfielder failed to put a shot away.

When Kirby scored, it was largely against the flow of play. City had played mostly in Chelsea’s half for the last 10 minutes and had 12 shots on their opponents’ five, but their clinical passing and speed at the break mean you can never rule them out of a game.

“We were lucky” – reaction

Chelsea boss Hayes said her side were “lucky” in the first half after struggling against City’s pressing.

“We overplayed and kept getting into trouble. We played from behind in every situation and gave City the best chances,” she said.

“We were a bit hesitant. Today was like the season opener – it looked like two teams didn’t have momentum and sometimes that takes time. We dominated in the second half, after a weak first half we felt comfortable.”

Hayes must now hope her side can continue their improvement after the upcoming international break – they next play at Everton on October 16.

“We’re still transitioning, too, but maybe the collective leadership in my group is further than City,” she added.

Hayes arguably has more experience in her group with City going through a more obvious period of change.

They lost key players – Lucy Bronze, Georgia Stanway, Caroline Weir, Ellen White and record transfer Keira Walsh – in the summer transfer window and City boss Gareth Taylor said Chelsea have “experience of success”.

Taylor added: “It’s an assumption that we’re a new team with a lot of new players, but I think we have good leadership and there’s a lot of mold.”

City have now lost their first two games of the season after finishing last season with 13 straight WSL wins.

They have already failed to qualify for this season’s Champions League group stage after losing to Real Madrid, but Taylor said Sunday’s performance “gives us something to build on”.

He said: “It’s not great but it is what it is. We played well in the first half and had good moments, good chances. I’ll take positives from today.”


Chelsea women

formation 3-4-1-2

  • 30Berger
  • 4Bright
  • 26Buchanan
  • 16Ericsson
  • 17flemingReplaced byEnglishat 65′protocol
  • 22Cuthbert
  • 18MjeldeReplaced byPerissetat 86′protocol
  • 14kirby
  • 11RideReplaced byKarlat 87′protocol
  • 20Kerr
  • 10JamesReplaced byRytting Kanerydat 90+1′protocol


  • 1Musovic
  • 5English
  • 7carter
  • 9England
  • 13Svitkova
  • fifteenPerisset
  • 19Rytting Kaneryd
  • 21Karl
  • 28Cankovic

Man City women

formation 4-3-3

  • 1roebuck
  • 2Casparij
  • 6Houghton
  • 5green wood
  • fifteenOuahabiBooked at 52 minutes
  • 10Castellanos
  • 4alexandriReplaced byLosadaat 84′protocol
  • 7coombs
  • 9Kelly
  • 21showReplaced byBlakstadat 84′protocol
  • 11hempReplaced byRasoat 79′protocol


  • 3Stokes
  • 8thfowler
  • 12Angeldahl
  • 13Raso
  • 17Losada
  • 22MacIver
  • 35Keating
  • 36Little hat
  • 41Blakstad

Abigail Byrne


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