WSL: Chelsea fire still burning after title lifeline

Guro Reiten celebrates during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea FC and Bristol City at Kingsmeadow on May 05, 2024
Guro Reiten celebrates during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Chelsea FC and Bristol City at Kingsmeadow on May 05, 2024 (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Guro Reiten’s spectacular showcase at Kingsmeadow helped Chelsea resurrect their Women’s Super League title chances and shut down the goal difference gap on Manchester City. Emma Hayes’ side also have an important game in-hand over the league leaders.

Although Bristol City will be relegated to the Championship next season, they showed up prepared to fight for their pride. Chelsea now have a foot back in the WSL title race and will need to make their remaining games count.

Starting XIs

Chelsea

Mušović; Bright (c), Ingle, Nüsken, Reiten, Périsset, Charles, Cuthbert, Hamano, Beever-Jones, Björn

Subs: Hampton, Carter, Leupolz, Macario, Lawrence, Kirby, Mjelde, Kaneryd, Buchanan

Bristol City

Bentley; Powell, Struck, Connolly (C), Rodgers, Napier, Bull, Syme, Thestrup, Jones, Morgan

Subs: Clark, Yanez, Harrison, Hayles, Stratigakis, Evans, Ward, Slocombe, Kendell

Chelsea title chances boosted

As the sun shone down on Kingsmeadow on a Spring day in May, the game got underway. Chelsea looked to get an early goal in with Maika Hamano attempting a left-footed shot from the centre of the box. But Bristol City’s defence stayed strong. However, after just five minutes, the Blues were awarded a penalty following a foul by Jasmine Bull on Niamh Charles.

Calm and collected, Reiten stepped up to take the spot-kick and slotted the ball past Fran Bentley and into the bottom left of the goal.

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Bristol City quickly went on the counter-attack, with Carrie Jones looking to score a left-footer, but the attempt was saved by Zećira Mušović. Another attempt from City came in the same minute, with a strike from the left of the six-yard box saved again.

A foul from Hamano in the 15th minute on Ella Powell led to a free-kick for Bristol City on the left wing. A strong attempt was missed by the Robins, as Jones’ shot from outside the box was fired off target.

Bristol City remained defensively strong in their half following a string of missed chances. Fran Bentley made another save following Aggie Beever-Joness attempt from the six-yard box. However, Sjoeke Nüsken doubled Chelsea’s lead just a few moments later following a scuffle in the box.

After the second goal, City pushed with a number of attempts on goal but none of the chances came to fruition. The half-time whistle blew with opportunities for both sides, but Chelsea leading with two goals.

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A dominant second half

As the second half commenced, Fran Kirby replaced Nüsken for her final run out at Kingsmeadow. The Bristol City players came out the blocks strong, dominating the pitch in the first ten minutes. However, doom struck as Chelsea scored their third goal of the night, courtesy of Beever-Jones.

Two attempts from Jones for the Robins followed, with one blocked and the other scraping the top of the goal. Although City may have started the game as the stronger team, Chelsea came back in full force.

A sensational strike from Reiten outside of the box fired into the bottom right corner, notching Chelsea’s fourth goal of the evening. Another two substitutions came for Chelsea as Catarina Macario and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd came on for Sophie Ingle and Ève Périsset just after the hour mark.

Amalie Thestrup had a great chance for a consolation goal with a shot from the centre of the box. Her effort landed with ease in the hands of Mušović and sparked a Chelsea counter.

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Straight on the attack from Thestrup’s attempt, Chelsea conceded a corner from Bull. After a beautiful assist from Macario, Reiten scored her hat-trick with a neat finish inside the box to make it 5-0.

Bristol City made their first substitution as Shania Hayles came on for Emily Syme in the 71st minute. A following foul from Amy Rodgers awarded Chelsea a free-kick in a dangerous area. Charles got on the scoresheet with Chelsea’s sixth, following a cross by Macario.

Read: A women’s football guide for disabled supporters

With emotions firing up, yet another foul was awarded to the Blues in a dangerous area. Beever-Jones took the free-kick, teeing up Reiten’s fourth goal of the night.

Two more substitutions followed for Bristol City as Abi Harrison and Mari Ward came on for Ffion Morgan and Bull. As the Robins made a run in to attack, Thestrup was caught offside. Then, for the last time at Kingsmeadow, Maren Mjelde was substituted on for Nathalie Björn.

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A bad foul from Rodgers in the 86th minute led to her being shown a yellow card. The booking led to Chelsea’s eighth goal of the evening, with a header from the centre of the box by Beever-Jones.

Despite valiant efforts from Bristol City throughout the match, it was Chelsea who took home a huge three points in their title challenge. The eight goals have also helped them surpass Manchester City’s goal difference. Gareth Taylor’s side were dealt a hefty defeat by Arsenal, giving the Blues a huge title lifeline.

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