Manchester City Women comfortably beat Birmingham City to go top of the WSL and put the pressure firmly back on Chelsea in this season’s title race. A first half brace by Chloe Kelly was added to by strikes from Esme Morgan and Sam Mewis, however Kelly was stretched off in the 73rd minute with what looked like a knee injury.
The blues needed to win the match against the relegation threatened rivals and, with Chelsea in action against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, it was a golden opportunity for the blues to take the initiative in the race for league glory, if only for a few days. The Londoners travel to Spurs on Thursday to play their game in hand, knowing that any slip could hand City the title.
And it looked like being a long afternoon for the visitors as City almost took the lead within the first 30 seconds as Kelly saw her first time shot blocked by keeper Hannah Hampton.
That save turned into a temporary reprieve for the visiting keeper as City took the lead on ten minutes. Lauren Hemp showed the Birmingham defence a clean pair of heels and her cross found Weir inside the penalty area. The Scot controlled the ball and fired her shot at goal which Hampton parried into the path of Kelly, and the England international made no mistake from six yards out.
City continued to press forward, but were far from the usual, flowing side the fans are used to seeing. All too often the final ball into the box would be easily cut out by the defenders to end yet another attack, or City could have been well clear by the break.
On 22 minutes, Kelly got hers and City’s second goal of the match and once again, it was made by Hemp. Weir’s clever reverse pass on the left released the winger and her ball into the box was missed by Ellen White, but tapped home by Kelly.
City continued to press after the break without adding to their tally, and in the 65th minute, the blues had a golden chance to increase the lead when Kelly was brought down in the area. Having been released with a defence-splitting pass, Kelly clashed with Rebecca Holloway and the winger went to ground. It was an innocuous challenge from the defender but Kelley and was in clear pain as the referee called for a stretcher. After nine minutes, Kelly was stretchered off and the penalty could be taken.
Weir stepped up but saw her spot-kick saved by Hampton. Three minutes later, Weir danced her way past the defence and looked to make amends for the missed penalty, only to again be denied by Hampton who parried her powerful shot away. The Scot had another strike at goal with 7 minutes remaining, but Hampton denied her for a third time as the blues threatened to run riot in the last minutes of the match.
But from the resulting corner, City finally got their third through Morgan’s first goal of the season. Janine Beckie’s corner on the right was flicked on by Hemp, and Morgan swept home for 3-0. And Hampton was beaten for a fourth time in injury time when Mewis hammered home after the visitors failed to clear their lines.
It was tough on the visiting keeper after she had kept the blues at bay for so long, but a deserved victory for City, who top the league going into the final match of the season, and all eyes will now focus on North London on Thursday.
Final Score: Manchester City Women 4-0 Birmingham City Women