Manchester City Women twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with leaders Chelsea in a thrilling encounter at the Academy Stadium. Goals from Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp gave the blues a share of the spoils after Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder had twice given Chelsea the lead.
But the result dealt a blow to City’s title hopes as Chelsea remain 2 points ahead of the blues, and City have to rely on a Chelsea defeat while winning their final games of the season if they are to lift the WSL trophy.
In a week that was dominated by the club’s association with the doomed European Super League project, the City girls were first in action in a double blue header at the top of their respective tables.
Chelsea arrived at the academy stadium in just as good form as the blues, and looked to inflict more misery on City following their 4-2 League Cup defeat in January, while City needed the three points to leapfrog their opponents and take control of the title race.
But after a bright start by City, it was Chelsea who took the lead. Sam Kerr, who missed hatful of chances when these two met in the Community Shield in September, was on the scoresheet, powering in a header from a corner on the Chelsea right. She got away from her marker Caroline Weir to send the visitors in front.
The lead lasted four minutes as City showed they weren’t prepared to give up the title without a fight. Hemp’s cross from the left was missed by Millie Bright and Kelly tapped home the equaliser to bring City level and put the future of the title into doubt once more.
But five minutes later, Chelsea were ahead again and City were the architects of their own downfall. The blues gave the ball away cheaply inside the Chelsea half, and the pass forward found Kerr. The Australian international was allowed to run into the penalty area, and went past Alex Greenwood but was brought down by the onrushing Ellie Roebuck. Harder stepped up to make it 2-1 from the spot, sending Roebuck the wrong way.
Lucy Bronze was denied a goal by a good save from the visiting keeper as the blues tried for a second time to draw level.
It was looking like one of those days for City until a mistake Fran Kirby gave the blues hope. Her wayward pass to no one in particular was pounced on by Kelly and her ball into the area should have been cut out by Bright. However the England defender miscued her clearance and the ball fell for Hemp, who made no mistake from about ten yards out.
With renewed optimism, City went for the win and Greenwood’s corner was flicked towards goal by Hemp, but Berger was there to tip the ball onto the bar to deny City what could have been a pole-position winner. Bronze also missed a good chance when she ghosted in at the far post to meet Greenwood’s teasing cross, only to see her header drift agonisingly wide.
Chelsea almost wrapped up the win when Kerr was set through on goal, but Roebuck was on hand to deny what would surely have been a title-winning goal.
At the full-time whistle, the visitors celebrated like they had been crowned champions and, while they are within striking distance of retaining the WSL, a slip up against either Spurs or Reading in their final matches could see the blues snatch the title from their grasp.
Both teams are in action on 2nd May, when Chelsea make the short trip to north London while City entertain relegation threatened Birmingham.
Final Score: Manchester City Women 2-2 Chelsea Women