The Women’s Super League returned to action on Sunday and all teams, including newly promoted Bristol City, got their first taste of the 2023/24 season. The WSL opening weekend delivered plenty of key takeaways, so here’s a look at what happened.
Reigning champions Chelsea earned their first win of the term at Stamford Bridge, while both Manchester sides also banked three points.
Arsenal were snubbed of a result by Liverpool, despite their record crowd attendance at the Emirates. Meanwhile, Brighton and Leicester City chalked wins for their own tallies against Everton and Bristol respectively.
Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester United
After a quiet first half, the second provided all the drama fans could have hoped for. A red card for Kirsty Hanson reduced Aston Villa to ten players with a quarter of an hour left to play. England star Rachel Daly got the goal-scoring action underway just two minutes later. The No.9 was last season’s Golden Boot winner, having bagged 22 league goals.
However, it wasn’t enough for the Villans as an equaliser from Lucía García, followed by a late winner from Rachel Williams, saw Man United take all three points from Villa Park.Embed from Getty Images
Everton 1-2 Brighton
Two early goals from Elizabeth Terland got Brighton’s WSL opening weekend off to a flying start. A dominant opening half performance from the Seagulls saw them keep the hosts at bay throughout the opening 45 minutes. The second half brought about a far more composed Everton side though, with the Toffees enjoying far longer spells of possession.
Ultimately, Megan Finnigan’s 66th minute goal would prove little more than a consolation, with the visitors taking all three points from the opening weekend.Embed from Getty Images
Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool
With more than 50,000 fans filling the Emirates, Arsenal welcomed Liverpool for the opening weekend of the WSL. Despite dominating almost every aspect of the game, the Gunners found themselves struggling to find the decisive edge over their opponent.
Miri Taylor’s 48th minute goal would ultimately be the only thing to separate the two sides. With Liverpool claiming the crucial three points, Matt Beard’s side have got their domestic campaign off to a very strong start.Embed from Getty Images
Bristol City 2-4 Leicester City
In the highest-scoring game of the day, fans were treated to a six-goal thriller at Ashton Gate. Carrie Jones and Amalie Thestrup found the back of the net for the newly promoted Robins, while goals from Aimee Palmer, Shannon O’Brien, Lena Petermann and Jutta Rantala secured the win for the Foxes.
With the visitors dominating much of the game, Bristol at times appeared unable to find a foothold in the tie. The three points got the visitors off to a strong start to their WSL campaign as they look to put last season’s troubles behind them.Embed from Getty Images
West Ham 0-2 Manchester City
A dominant Man City performance saw Gareth Taylor’s side take all three points from their opening game. Goals from Lauren Hemp and summer signing Jill Roord kicked the Sky Blues into gear following a disappointing end to their 2022/23 campaign.
However, a straight red card for Leila Ouahabi offered the Hammers a route back into the game with less than 20 minutes on the clock. But a lack of clinical edge in front of goal, combined with an organised and resilient defensive display from City prevented Rehanne Skinner’s side from capitalising.Embed from Getty Images
Chelsea 2-1 Spurs
A debut goal for Mia Fishel gave Chelsea the lead in just the 29th minute of their WSL opening weekend clash. The American international joined the Blues from Tigres over the summer transfer window. England star Lauren James tapped home the Blues’ second of the afternoon, following a flurry of chances.
An equaliser for Spurs through Martha Thomas reignited the game’s tempo, providing the visitors a route back into the tie. The hosts appeared to have snatched a late third against the run of play however the goal was quickly disallowed for offside.Embed from Getty Images
The victory ensured Chelsea were the only home side of the weekend to take anything from their fixture. Despite taking all three points, the performance was far from the clinical masterclass frequently demonstrated by Emma Hayes’ side. However, with several key names absent from the squad, the Blues boss will be confident her side can look to retain their title.