Manchester United 1Chelsea 3
Lauren James has returned to haunt her old club and help her new side demonstrate their league titles with a patient but clinically executed win, as Manchester United’s wait for a first win over Chelsea continues.
Quick goals from Sam Kerr and James gave Chelsea command of the game early in the second half, after a relatively lackluster first 45 minutes, before in-form England striker Alessia Russo pulled one back for United , but Erin Cuthbert’s strike sealed the visitors. ‘ to win.
The result was a big disappointment for the majority of the 6,186 crowd – Manchester United’s biggest attendance for a women’s game away to Old Trafford – on a night that saw the hosts 100 per cent behind. beginning to end of the season.
The two sides started the day level on points, but the defending champions had played an extra game, and due to Chelsea’s surprise loss to Liverpool on the opening weekend, they caught up.
Nonetheless, it had been touted as the first real assessment of United’s progress this term, as they seek to enter the elusive top three for the first time since reforming a women’s team in 2018.
When these two sides met at Leigh Sports Village last season, it was a humbling experience for United as they suffered their heaviest WSL defeat in a 6-1 thrashing. Chelsea would go on to score 10 goals in their two league head-to-head encounters last season.
This season, Marc Skinner’s side have started the campaign looking serious, going top of the league this weekend with five clear wins out of five – without conceding a league goal.
They had been greatly improved in defense by the summer arrival from Brighton of Maya Le Tissier – who received her first senior call-up from the Lionesses of Sarina Wiegman on Tuesday – and the return to form of central defensive partner Millie Turner after several months out. absence. recover from a carotid artery dissection. The duo seemed resilient and composed. However, they will both be disappointed with their role in Chelsea’s first two goals.
Under no pressure from the visitors, Turner offered possession straight to Wales’ Sophie Ingle, whose pass picked out Kerr and the Australian star fired a deadly finish through Le Tissier’s legs to beat a stranded Mary Earps and open the score.
Moments later, a single long ball over the top saw Kerr hang on for the break and past Le Tissier, and she brought the ball perfectly back into the path of former Manchester United player James. The 21-year-old swept a stunning first time into the bottom corner and kissed the Chelsea badge in celebration.
After leading 2-0, Skinner’s side showed determination to get back into the game as Russo collected Ella Toone’s pass and put the ball into the corner.
They put the pressure on but it was Scotland’s Cuthbert who had the last laugh, with a searing strike at the other end. United are undoubtedly improving, but tonight showed they still have some way to go.