Manchester City crushed Birmingham 4-0 to lead the women’s Super League title race on the final day of the season, but their victory was overshadowed by a serious injury to two-goal striker Chloe Kelly in the second half.
With Chelsea playing in the Champions League, City were looking for a win that would allow them to earn a point at the top of the table and increase the heat on the side of Emma Hayes, who has a game in hand.
They dominated from the start and were leading 1-0 after 10 minutes when Lauren Hemp did well to get to signing and meet Caroline Weir with her cut-back.
Weir’s low shot was saved well by Hannah Hampton, but she could only place the ball straight into Kelly’s path for a simple tap-in.
Hemp and Kelly were causing all kinds of trouble for their opponents and they came together again for the second goal after 23 minutes.
Hemp walked over to the branch line once more and made way for Kelly to pass Hampton again.
That goal seemed to rally Carla Ward’s side, who settled in and defended much more stubbornly, although they couldn’t establish any significant possession with Claudia Walker looking isolated up front.
Birmingham remained resolute after the break and limited City to speculative shots from a distance.
Kelly sought to secure her hat-trick, but her race at the wheel after 65 minutes saw her collide with Rebecca Holloway, winning a penalty but leaving the field on a stretcher in a knee pad in obvious discomfort.
After a long break in play, Weir walked over to take the corner after 72 minutes, but Hampton descended well to his right to score it.
Weir had a chance to be pardoned after 77 minutes, but his curling shot from inside the box was foiled again by Hampton.
Substitute Janine Beckie forced another good save as City searched for a third but struggled to find a way past the impressive Hampton.
The pressure was finally revealed after 85 minutes when Beckie’s corner was scrambled by Esme Morgan.
The visitors succumbed to a Beckie corner again four minutes after the start of extra time when substitute Sam Mewis struck as City increased the pressure on Chelsea, who faced Tottenham in midweek.
Gunners but seal CL football
Arsenal have practically secured Champions League football next season as Kim Little’s dramatic penalty in stoppage time secured a 2-1 win at Everton.
It was a seventh consecutive victory for the north London club and it meant they ended the day three points clear of fourth-placed Manchester United with one women’s Super League round to go and one difference of far superior goals.
Katie McCabe opened the scoring – her fourth goal of the WSL season – in the 22nd minute with a nice chip against Sandy MacIver.
Everton equalized 15 minutes full time when Megan Finnigan directed her header from a central position to the bottom corner.
It looked like the booty was about to be shared but in the 94th minute McCabe was knocked down and the visitors were kicked.
Captain Little stepped up and calmly sent the ball over to the upper right corner to claim all three points and a top three spot for the Gunners.
United Edge after Bristol City
Manchester United needed an own goal by Yana Daniels to beat down the Bristol City table in a fiercely contested clash.
United, fourth, dominated possession throughout the game.
But Bristol City came close to a breakthrough in the first half, with Kiera Skeels smashing the ball against the crossbar in the seventh minute.
United finally took the lead in the 79th minute. Jane Ross fired a shot at the post from close range and, in the resulting scrum, Daniels deflected the ball into his own net.
The defeat has left Bristol City winless in their last six WSL games.
Williams inspires Reading in final home game
Fara Williams scored from the penalty spot in her last home game as Reading beat Brighton 3-2 in the Women’s Super League.
Both teams lined up for a guard of honor ahead of Williams’ entry to the Madejski after England’s most capped player announced she would retire at the end of the season.
Williams opened the scoring before Danielle Carter doubled the Royals’ lead.
Lee Geum-min then scored a two-minute brace to level the process. A well-guided header was followed by a sensational strike immediately after the restart.
But Natasha Harding snatched the winner after 55 minutes as Reading edged Brighton in the WSL table.
Goalless between Villa and West Ham
WSL relegation wrestlers Aston Villa and West Ham both missed plenty of chances as they played their second goalless draw in weeks.
Dagny Brynjarsdottir missed a golden chance to put West Ham ahead before the break in an uneventful first half.
Shania Hayles then pumped up her lines as Villa looked set to open the scoring shortly after the restart.
The Hammers finished stronger with Martha Thomas and Emily van Egmond crushing efforts on the crossbar in the later stages, but a point each did little to relieve the pressure on either side.