Lauren James would ensure it was a night to forget for her former club as champions Chelsea ended Manchester United’s unbeaten with a 3-1 win at Leigh Sports Village.
Two quickfire strikes from Sam Kerr (60th minute) and James (64th minute) coupled with a last-minute thunderbolt from Erin Cuthbert would hand the Blues the win despite Alessia Russo’s 71st-minute goal.
Manchester United vs Chelsea: team news
For United, Spanish duo Lucía García and Ona Batlle were both ruled out, allowing Marc Skinner to include Russo from the start following her return from injury last weekend.
For the visitors, there was just one change from last weekend’s victory over Aston Villa as Niamh Charles replaced Eve Perisset.
Skinner’s side would go closest when great running from Russo allowed her to put in a cross which saw an Ella Toone shot force Berger into a save before Kadeisha Buchanan scrambled clear.Embed from Getty Images
Chelsea’s first real sight of goal would come on the half-hour mark when a strong run and cross from Niamh Charles would almost catch out Mary Earps, but the England stopper would anticipate the danger and tip over her bar on her 150th WSL appearance.
Pernille Harder would then go even closer, the Dane heading narrowly wide of Earps post from Guro Reiten’s excellent cross.
Another great driving run from Russo would almost open the scoring for the home side when her cross was nearly diverted into her own net by Millie Bright.
Chelsea taking the lead
United’s bright start would be short-lived, however, when a poor pass out of defence landed at the feet of Kerr who did what she does best.
And Chelsea would take a commanding lead just minutes later when Kerr was once again set free and laid off for former Red Devil James to place home perfectly.
Two almost became three shortly after when a fantastic ball over the top released Reiten only for her run and shot to cannon back off the post.
Manchester United reactingEmbed from Getty Images
Typically, the miss would come back to haunt the champions. Almost instantly a sublime ball from Toone allowed Russo to smash home from close range and hand United a lifeline.
Kerr would almost restore the two-goal lead though in the 83rd minute. But she would uncharacteristically nod wide of goal from close range when it looked easier to score.
With United pushing for a deserved leveler, Hayley Ladd would see a shot go close. This happened after a good wing by from Martha Thomas. And, with the seconds ticking down, Scottish midfielder Cuthbert would make sure of the points with a 20-yard drive.
Chelsea claim three points
The win moves Chelsea into second place and level on points with Arsenal, though they have played a game more. United drop to third.
Man Utd: Earps, Thorisdottir, Blundell (Staniforth 65), Toone, Zelem, Galton, Ladd (Leon 87), Le Tissier, Turner, Parris (Thomas 78), Russo (Williams 78)
Chelsea: Berger, Bright, Ingle, James (Carter 90), Reiten (Kaneryd 83), Eriksson, Kerr, Charles, Cuthbert, Harder, Buchanan