Sam Kerr’s brilliant first-half strike was enough to give Chelsea a crucial victory over Manchester United and return them to the top of the Women’s Super League.
Emma Hayes’ injury-hit side started the day a point behind United, albeit with a game in hand, but Kerr’s 23rd-minute goal decided a tight game and gave Chelsea a huge win in a thrilling title race.
United dominated possession early on but were given two warnings as Kerr twice tested visiting goalkeeper Mary Earps. However, there was no let off the third time.
Lauren James played a pinpoint ball over the top from the right touchline, Kerr timed her run to perfection, brought the ball down on her chest, then lifted it gloriously over Earps and into the far corner.
Marc Skinner’s side had an opportunity to equalise almost immediately when a Chelsea slip allowed Ella Toone space in the box. But the England attacking midfielder seemed torn between going for goal and crossing, and the result was neither one nor the other as the ball sailed wide.
United felt they should have had a penalty in the 33rd minute when Nikita Parris went down under contact from Kadeisha Buchanan, but referee Cheryl Foster waved played on.
Kerr remained Chelsea’s main threat in the second half, muscling Maya le Tissier off the ball before side-footing just wide. And while United pushed for a leveller in the closing stages, they failed to create any clear chances and the hosts held on.
Chelsea are now two points clear at the top as they bid for a sixth WSL title.
- 8LeupolzBooked at 34mins
- 10JamesSubstituted forRytting Kanerydat 62′minutes
- 17FlemingSubstituted forErikssonat 75′minutes
- 21CharlesSubstituted forMjeldeat 90+1′minutes
- 19Rytting Kaneryd
Man Utd Women
- 15Le Tissier
- 12LaddSubstituted forGarcíaat 90′minutes
- 22ParrisSubstituted forMannionat 82′minutes
- 7TooneSubstituted forWilliamsat 72′minutes
- 11GaltonSubstituted forThomasat 71′minutes
- 8Bøe Risa
- Cheryl Foster
Match ends, Chelsea Women 1, Manchester United Women 0.
Second Half ends, Chelsea Women 1, Manchester United Women 0.
Katie Zelem (Manchester United Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Sophie Ingle (Chelsea Women).
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Maren Mjelde replaces Niamh Charles.
Offside, Chelsea Women. Niamh Charles tries a through ball, but Sam Kerr is caught offside.
Substitution, Manchester United Women. Lucía García replaces Hayley Ladd.
Attempt missed. Sam Kerr (Chelsea Women) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Sophie Ingle.
Offside, Manchester United Women. Maya Le Tissier tries a through ball, but Alessia Russo is caught offside.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match because of an injury Ann-Katrin Berger (Chelsea Women).
Substitution, Manchester United Women. Aoife Mannion replaces Nikita Parris.
Offside, Chelsea Women. Ève Périsset tries a through ball, but Johanna Rytting Kaneryd is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Melanie Leupolz (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.
Attempt saved. Katie Zelem (Manchester United Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Rachel Williams (Manchester United Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ève Périsset (Chelsea Women).
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Magdalena Eriksson replaces Jessie Fleming.
Foul by Maya Le Tissier (Manchester United Women).
Kadeisha Buchanan (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.