It promised to be an encounter to savour as Chelsea women attempted a feat they have never managed before - beating Manchester City at their backyard in the Women’s Super League. Chelsea were on a run of nine straight wins and had kept five consecutive clean sheets heading into the encounter. The team is by far the most consistent in the league this season and is looking to achieve an invincible campaign in the WSL.
However, the side faced the biggest challenge yet, in Man City. Both teams possess some of the best attacks in the division. And they are also solid at the back. Two of England’s most feared strikers in City’s Ellen White and Chelsea’s Beth England went head-to-head in a battle of the strikers. Although England has been the more prolific of the two in front of goal this term, City’s Georgia Stanway was on hand to provide maximum support to her teammate.
This is one match the Cityzens couldn’t afford to lose. Even a draw may not be good enough in the end. The stakes are not only high for the home team, the away side understands the ramifications of a bad result here. And so the strikers were on full throttle. Neither defence could easily contain them, leading to a goal-fest.
For City’s captain and leader, Steph Houghton, the extra motivation was to secure her 100th league win. Her number one task as a center-back was to keep Beth England away from the scorers sheet. On any given day, that is a difficult task for any defender. It’s not an accident that the 25-year-old has netted 13 times this season. She sits behind only Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema in the scoring charts.
But it was City’s Ellen White who opened the scoring midway through the first half. This followed a series of spurned chances from both sides, as the game flowed end-to-end. She turned in Janine Beckie’s cross to open the floodgates.
Chelsea didn’t take long to join the party when a wicked deflection helped Ji So-Yun’s chest-and-volley find the bottom corner. The two teams went into the break with the game tied at 1-1.
City went ahead again in the second half through Georgia Stanway who fired home after racing past the opponent’s defence. But once again, the London side would equalise through Magdalena Eriksson who headed in from close range. Stanway then missed a penalty minutes later. But that was not the end of the drama as Beth England finally made her presence felt with a trademark pile-driver that put the visitors ahead for the first time in the match.
City rallied back to level the scores again through Lauren Hemp with both sides sharing the spoils in the end.
A 3-3 result is not bad in itself, but although the Cityzens remain top of the table with 40 points, they’ve played a game more than Chelsea. The title is now Chelsea’s to lose as the London side will emerge champions with a perfect run in the remaining games.