Chelsea stunned league leaders Arsenal with a 4-1 triumph to narrow the gap at the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table on a fascinating Sunday of action.
Emma Hayes’ side now sit just a point adrift of, and with a game in hand on, new table-toppers Manchester City, who won 2-0 against Birmingham City and usurped Arsenal’s position at the summit following Chelsea’s emphatic result at Meadow Park.
Blues make a statement
New signing Sam Kerr notched her maiden Chelsea goal in a first-half blitz that saw Joe Montemurro’s side concede three in the opening 20 minutes, with Beth England, Sophie Ingle and Guro Reiten also scoring to inflict a first home defeat of the season on Arsenal.
Beth Mead scored a late consolation for the Gunners but it was all Chelsea in Borehamwood, who are now poised to leapfrog both Arsenal and City owing to their game in hand.
The visitors got the ball rolling through England’s stunning strike after just ten minutes, doubling their advantage after Kerr’s header and completing the early ambush when Ingle struck a superb 20-yard volley into the corner.
Reiten continued the rout with a glancing header in the second half, before Ann Katrin-Berger spilt Mead’s header over the line to finally allow the reigning champions to get on the scoresheet.
The result marked an appreciable power shift at the top of the FA WSL table, with Arsenal now lying second following City’s win in the Midlands and Chelsea in third ready to pounce, having played 12 games compared to their rivals’ 13.
City ease past Blues to seize top spot
Nick Cushing may be leaving Manchester City in February but he is determined to go out on a high, as his players eased past Birmingham 2-0 to capitalise on Arsenal’s disintegration on home soil.
England striker Ellen White set the tone with her strike after just 34 seconds, predatorially getting on the end of Jill Scott’s pass to give the visitors the lead.
And midfielder Keira Walsh made it two just after the hour mark, as Scott once again was provider for the 22-year-old to fire home from the edge of the area.
Liverpool triumph in battle at the bottom
The dynamic at the bottom of the table also changed on what was a scintillating Sunday of action, as Vicky Jepson’s Liverpool picked up their maiden win of the season to move ahead of relegation rivals Bristol City.
Rachel Furness was the visitors’ savour in the West Country, notching her first Liverpool goal after instinctively pouncing on Melissa Lawley’s parried shot.
The Reds now sit just outside the league’s solitary relegation place on goal difference, level on six points with Tanya Oxtoby’s team who have mustered just one league win all season themselves.
Red Devils win in duel of the newcomers
Manchester United and Tottenham may have been playing their football in the FA Women’s Championship last season but they were duking it out in FA WSL action on Sunday, with Casey Stoney’s Red Devils running home 3-0 winners.
FT: #MUWomen 3 Tottenham 0— Manchester United Women (@ManUtdWomen) January 19, 2020
Two flawless set-pieces from the skipper @KatieZel, a goal from @JessSigsworth5 and a red card in stoppage time for Ella Toone - what a game. We’ll take the three points! 🤝 pic.twitter.com/L3TT3wpwvn
A Katie Zelem double and a Jess Sigsworth effort proved too much for the visitors to handle at Leigh Sports Village, with United’s only regret being substitute Ella Toone’s stoppage-time dismissal after a late scuffle.
United are now fourth in the table on 18 points, level with Everton and 14 adrift of Chelsea in third.
Toffees enjoy sweet Sunday feeling
Chloe Kelly fired a clinical hat-trick as Everton moved ahead of Reading into fifth position.
Willie Kirk’s side had previously gone three games without a win but showed no signs of lacking confidence on Merseyside, as Kelly’s 11th, 59th and 65th-minute strikes – the second of those direct from a corner – extinguished the Royals’ hopes of extending their lead over their opponents in the table.
United and Everton now set the pace in the mid-table pack, with Kirk’s players travelling to Brighton in two weeks hoping to build valuable momentum heading into the business end of the season.
Lehmann inflicts Hammer blow on Brighton
Alisha Lehmann scored a late double to turn the tables and inflict away day misery on Brighton in east London.
Danique Kerkdijk had initially given Hope Powell’s side the lead in the 23rd minute after a frenetic goalmouth scramble, before the Switzerland star popped up in the 79th and 83rd minutes for the hosts to deliver a fatal blow to Brighton's chances of overtaking the Hammers in the table.
West Ham now sit four points ahead of the Seasiders in eighth position, with Brighton lingering just three points clear of the relegation zone after Liverpool’s seismic win at Bristol City.
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