Two second half goals for Chelsea and a red card for Jill Scott saw Chelsea condemn Manchester City Women to defeat in the Community Shield. A stunning long range strike by Millie Bright and an injury time goal from Erin Cuthbert inflicted defeat on Gareth Taylor’s side in the Wembley opener.
It was a tough lesson for the blues, who started brightly, forcing the first corner of the game within the first twenty seconds. But concerns over the defence came as early as the third minute when Australian star Sam Kerr found space behind the City back line, only to try and beat Ellie Roebuck with the outside of her right boot, and watched as it hit the side netting.
City tried to utilise Lauren Hemp and new signing Chloe Kelly on the wings and the pair had limited success until Hemp’s departure in the 26th minute when she pulled up with a hamstring injury. Her replacement, Janine Beckie had a goal disallowed for offside after Kelly had taken on the Chelsea defence, weaving her way into the box before squaring for Backie, but the Canadian was just offside as she tapped the ball into an empty net.
Livewire Kelly also hit the post after Georgia Stanway forced a good save from Chelsea keeper Berger as the blues pressed forward to grab the opening goal.
Scott received her first yellow card when she gave away a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the City box. South Korean midfielder Ji So-Yun took it, and when the ball hit her own player, the rebound fell kindly to Kerr, who headed wide from a good position as the first half ended 0-0.
If Chelsea edged the first half, the dominated the second and Kerr was again responsible for some glaring misses that should have seen the champions out of sight, and the Australian was relived when Bright’s thunderous strike hit the back of the net.
The goal came after Scott received her marching orders for a tough challenge on Ji, and the England midfielder may feel al little aggrieved by the decision. Scott’s challenge looked fair, but replays showed that her knee, with nowhere else to go, collided with Ji’s back and within four minutes Chelsea were ahead.
Bright collected the ball outside the area and hit an unstoppable shot that gave Roebuck no chance. City rallied and brought on American star Sam Mewis for Caroline Weir, but still Chelsea pressed for a second. Chelsea replaced the mis-firing Kerr and Fran Kirby, while City brought on England star Ellen White who replaced Stanway.
But it was Kirby’s replaced, Cuthbert who finally sealed the win, firing past Roebuck into the roof of the net.
While it was a tough defeat for the blues, not too many conclusions can be drawn on the basis of this match. Chelsea were relentless and may be favourites to claim a second successive WSL title, the blues future still looks bright, with new signing Chloe Kelly outstanding.
Kelly got the nod over proven striker White and she showed some flashes of brilliance which could indicate she will have a big say in City’s season. The former Everton player was effective on the right wing, but proved equally effective following Hemp’s departure on the left wing.
The blues will need but the blues will need to be more creative in the centre of midfield if they are to challenge Chelsea for the title. It was a misplaced pass in midfield that gave Chelsea possession and set Kerr away to goal in the third minute and to often the blues had no answer in the middle of the park, and in the second half, they seemed to be on the defensive as they allowed Chelsea to run the show, even before Scott’s dismissal.
City kick off their WSL season next weekend at Aston Villa and they will be eager to put this defeat behind them and hopefully bag their first three points of the season.