Sam Kerr, Lauren James and Erin Cuthbert handed champions Chelsea a 3-1 victory at Manchester United to keep them level with WSL leaders Arsenal and end their hosts’ unbeaten start.
Chelsea had the best of a few chances before taking the lead, with Pernille Harder nodding a free header, and they could have had a first-half penalty when Maya Le Tissier appeared to catch Guro Reiten.
United’s defense had been tight so far this season but was nowhere near enough to allow the WSL champions to score first on the hour mark, with a poor pass caught by Sophie Ingle and worked to Kerr to clinically send home.
Just two minutes later they added another, as Kerr latched onto a long ball and, after holding the ball, found James in the area to score on his first return to his old club.
Alessia Russo, returning from injury on her first start since September, cut the deficit with another unusually poor piece of defense but United never built on that platform.
Instead, Cuthbert’s deflected effort in injury time secured victory for the visitors to level them with leaders Arsenal, who have played one less game. United’s first dropped points of the season leave them three points off the pace in third.
Chelsea chief executive Paul Green taking charge of Emma Hayes’ continued absence for personal reasons, says sky sports after full-time, he hoped she would return for the Blues’ next game against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on November 20.
“We enter the international break hopefully ready to welcome Emma Hayes on the touchline for our next game, if all goes well, against Tottenham,” he said. “We are delighted and congratulate everyone on a very good job.”
How Chelsea ended Man Utd’s perfect start
United edged the opening exchanges at Leigh Sports Village as they looked to show they had closed the gap to Chelsea and Arsenal at the top of the WSL, but faced a lucky first-point escape. major flash in the middle of the opening period.
Le Tissier initially looked like he made a superb challenge on Reiten, but on closer inspection he may have tripped the Norwegian and had the chance to escape by conceding a penalty.
“It’s good to defend her, to hold her up, to make her do something, but it’s also a bit awkward. Reiten doesn’t appeal, she slips too and maybe that’s what bothers her. prevents you from being anything else,” said Sky Sports’ Sue Smith.
Harder should have eliminated any sense of unfairness with a free header from a Kerr cross, but planted it wide of the far post with the goal at his mercy.
Kerr flashed a wry smile after being taunted by home support as she slipped on the wet grass shortly after half-time, and soon got her revenge when Millie Turner’s pass off the defense was intercepted and forwarded to him. The Aussie made no mistakes from 15 yards out past Mary Earps for the opener.
She also played a part in Chelsea’s second moments later, dropping a long ball into the channel, waiting for support and kicking off James whose clever finish on Earps gave the Blues full control.
United’s fears of being overrun lasted just seven minutes before giving themselves hope. Cuthbert’s terrible pass was picked up by Ella Toone and worked for Russo, who coldly beat the pressing Ann-Katrin Berger.
Instead of pushing for an equalizer from there, United found themselves on the back foot again, with Kerr guilty of missing a golden chance to seal victory.
The tension remained at least until injury time, when Cuthbert made up for his earlier error with a deflected effort that passed Earps to ensure Chelsea kept pace with Arsenal at the top of the table.
Green hope Hayes will be back after the international break
Chelsea chief executive Paul Green to Sky Sports:
“I think we found a way in the second half. For 15 or 20 minutes when we were 2-0 down, I thought some of the football we played was exceptional. I think we fully deserved the victory and we congratulate the group for this period of games with Denise (Reddy) and myself at the controls.
“Coming out unscathed and winning every game is a testament to everyone involved, players and staff alike, and we enter the international break hopefully ready to welcome Emma Hayes to the touchline for our next game, if all goes well. going well, against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge We are delighted and congratulate everyone on a very good job.
“All [the games] are tough in their own way but that game and the away game against PSG were two that came out and you thought ‘we’re going to have to be at our best and find a way to win’ and I think we did. did in Part Two. We have done enough and shown why we are champions of England.
“Lauren James is a top player, we just had to be patient and slowly build her up and get her off the pitch last season, learning from the senior players that we really helped her when she didn’t see the pitch much. last season. But this season she was electric. You saw her again tonight, every time she had the ball you expected something to happen and she was the real shining spark for us.” She fully deserved the goal.
Carney: Utd mistakes to blame for first loss
Sky Sports’ Karen Carney:
“Marc Skinner looks disappointed because you organize your team and mistakes cost your team. The goals came in minutes and it was focus, their own mistakes, their own mistakes.
“I feel like they are getting closer. Chelsea are making mistakes and they are not being punished or they can get away with it. It will be disappointing for Man Utd but, overall, Chelsea were the better team , more experienced and more resilient, but they are getting closer.”
Manchester United have another huge match at the top of the WSL as they head to title rivals Arsenal Saturday, November 19, live on sky sports. Kick off is at 5:30 p.m.
After the international break, chelsea host Tottenham Sunday, November 20 at 1 p.m.