WSL roundup: Chelsea title surge back on as Blackstenius wounds City hopes

Women's Super League roundup by Maisie McNulty and Bethany Fisher

Stina Blackstenius celebrates with Beth Mead after scoring during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Arsenal and Manchester City
Stina Blackstenius celebrates with Beth Mead after scoring during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Meadow Park (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

As the penultimate match-day in the Barclays Women’s Super League came to an end, the division continued to provide plenty of drama. A defeat to Arsenal saw Manchester City lose ground in the title race, while Chelsea planted their name firmly back in the running.

Let’s recap the latest round of WSL results as the season approaches its finale, including one of Chelsea’s two games in-hand.

Liverpool cause upset in the table

In a midweek clash, Liverpool welcomed Chelsea to Prenton Park. An early goal from Aggie Beever-Jones gave the visitors a crucial early lead. Heading the ball beyond Courtney Brosnan, the England international goal was enough to send her side in ahead at the break.

The 51st minute saw Liverpool draw level through Sophie Roman Haug. Just 15 minutes later, an own goal from Erin Cuthbert gave the Reds the lead. Despite Liverpool’s impressive pressing, Niamh Charles’ cutback allowed Beever-Jones to get her second goal of the night. The goal was the first of three inside three minutes.

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A counter-attack from the Reds saw Holland take it past Cuthbert for Leanne Kiernan to level. An own goal from Teagan Micah just seconds later restored the deadlock. With an additional nine minutes to play, both sides began frantically searching for a winner. A set piece in the 91st minute saw Bonner smash the ball into the net, denting Emma Hayes’ title dream.

Spurs fight back at Everton

Although Tottenham had the better start to the match, it was Sara Holmgaard who put Everton ahead in the tenth minute. A well-worked cross just five minutes later doubled the host’s lead. The ball fell to the foot of Justine Vanhaevermaet who struck it into the left corner of the goal. Despite Spurs launching numerous counterattacks, they could not get past Everton’s defensive line for the majority of the first half. Drew Spence finally found the back of the net as her shot from close range made it 2-1.

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The second half saw Spurs come out as the better team with a goal scored just three minutes after play resumed. An assist from Spence led to a stunning shot by Beth England from close range. With both teams attempting to find a winner, neither could find the back of the net.

The final whistle blew, with the points shared following a well-fought battle. The player of the match was undoubtedly Courtney Brosnan. The No. 1’s composure carried her side through a difficult second half, securing the draw.

Villa edge out Brighton

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A narrow 1-0 victory over Brighton saw Aston Villa take all three points from their meeting with the Seagulls. Alisha Lehmann bagged the only goal of the match in the 64th minute, following a relatively quiet match for both sides. The Swiss international fired home Rachel Daly’s blocked shot to break the deadlock.

The win guarantees seventh place for the Villans, falling short of last season’s fifth-place finish. Carla Ward’s side will be unable to claim a spot in the top half of the table in her final season at the club. The Seagulls finished the weekend sitting in ninth ahead of their meeting with Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal.

Leicester retain 10th place

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West Ham welcomed Leicester City as the two sides vied to secure 10th place. The home team started the game as the stronger side, with Riko Ueki giving the Hammers the lead just 13 minutes in. Despite taking the lead, West Ham seemed flustered by Leicester’s attacking play.

West Ham’s lead was cancelled out in the 36th minute. Jutta Rantala’s corner kick was headed in by Sophie Howard to restore the deadlock. Rantala helped create many attempts for the Foxes however the Finnish international was unable to add to her goal tally. With the tie ending level, Leicester retained tenth place, maintaining their three-point lead over the Hammers.

Arsenal rattle Man City

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The most anticipated game of the weekend took place at Joie Stadium. Manchester City held a 1-0 lead for much of the clash, following a sublime early strike from Lauren Hemp in the 17th minute. However, with the final whistle approaching, City’s hopes were crushed by a super substitute from Arsenal.

Man City may have dominated the first half but it was Arsenal who posed the bigger threat in the second. Beth Mead, Laia Codina and Caitlin Foord all came close with their chances. Stina Blackstenius’ leveller came with just one minute of the normal time left, chipping the ball over Khiara Keating’s head.

With six minutes of added time, the hosts were desperately searching for a late winner. A beautiful header tucked into the bottom corner of the goal by Blackstenius in added time led to Arsenal taking home the three points. The Man City defeat gave Chelsea a huge lifeline in another thrilling WSL title battle.

Despite the heartbreak of the loss, Manchester City held an emotional post-match presentation to honour Steph Houghton. The final home game for the City legend saw her bid farewell to the Joie Stadium, following her decade of service to the club. The tribute saw the footballing community celebrate Houghton’s impact both for the Sky Blues and women’s football on a wider scale.

Chelsea back in the running

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Title contenders Chelsea dealt a crushing 8-0 defeat to Bristol City. Four goals from Guro Reiten alongside efforts from Aggie Beever-Jones, Sjoeke Nusken and Niamh Charles allowed the Blues to bolster their goal difference ahead of their final two games. Reiten opened the scoring just six minutes into the tie with a well-placed penalty. Nusken’s 23rd-minute tap-in sent the hosts in two goals clear at the break.

Beever-Jones got the goal-scoring action underway in the second half. Her 52nd-minute goal was followed by Reiten bagging her brace just four minutes later. Three goals inside seven minutes further compounded Bristol City’s misery. Beever-Jones dealt a final blow in the 88th minute as she found the back of the net for her second of the evening.

The victory meant more than just three points for the Blues, as that evening another emotional post-match presentation took place. The presentation served as a heartwarming farewell from three Chelsea legends, Fran Kirby, Maren Mjelde and Emma Hayes, who all made a big impact at Chelsea and in Women’s Football overall.

Chelsea’s title surge continues

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A second Chelsea goal from Maika Hamano was enough to secure Chelsea all three points against Tottenham Hotspur. Slotting the ball home at the back post, Hamano’s effort ensured that the title race would go down to the final day. Neither side could capitalise for much of the first half with the goal coming less than ten minutes before the break.

A determined second half performance from the hosts threatened the Blues’ lead however, Emma Hayes’ side were able to hang on to take all three points. With the title race likely to come down to goal difference, Chelsea will be hoping for a comfortable win at Old Trafford on the final day of the season to edge out Man City at the top of the table.

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