Chelsea stayed top of the Women’s Super League table after a huge weekend for domestic women’s football in England, extending their run of back-to-back WSL wins to four with a hard fought victory over Manchester United in front of a near capacity crowd at Kingsmeadow.
Chelsea got the win thanks to a contentiously awarded penalty that was converted by Norway international Maren Mjelde, won by substitute Fran Kirby seconds after coming off the bench.
United players and staff felt aggrieved by the standard of refereeing all game and it appeared that Millie Turner had won the ball at the crucial moment, only for the official, who it has since been reported was third choice for game, to point to the spot.
United later struck the woodwork when Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger spectacularly tipped an effort from Ella Toone onto the crossbar. The home side held on for the win, which keeps them a point clear of Manchester City and Arsenal at the top of the table.
City had at least put the pressure on earlier in the day. They were in action at the Academy Stadium and made light work of West Ham in what was a repeat of last season’s FA Cup final.
Goals from England trio Ellen White, Georgia Stanway (2) and Lauren Hemp made it 4-0 before half-time, with Belgian forward Tessa Wullaert getting the fifth in a 5-0 win.
On what was her 100th appearance for City, Stanway was actually sent off in the second half after picking up two yellow cards in the space of only a few minutes.
It was also a victory for Arsenal, who were the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the WSL’s first ever north London derby. There was a league record 38,262 crowd in attendance, but newly promoted Spurs couldn’t prevent the reigning champions from taking all three points.
Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema scored the goals, both in the second half, in the 2-0 win.
There was also a big crowd at Anfield, where Liverpool hosted Everton in the Merseyside derby. More than 23,000 were there to watch the momentous occasion, but struggling Liverpool were unable to throw the form book out of the window and were beaten by a single goal.
Lucy Graham’s long-range effort on the stroke of half-time squirmed through the grasp of goalkeeper Anke Preuss to give Everton a lead that they never relinquished.
As a result, the Toffees move up to fourth, just four points off the top, while the Reds remain rooted to the foot of the table after only one point and one goal from their six games.
Elsewhere, Brighton were big winners over Birmingham to get their first victory of the season and ease any immediate fears of possible relegation. Kayleigh Green scored twice for the Seagulls either side of a stunner from summer signing Lea Le Garrec.
Reading were denied a win at the Madejski Stadium thanks to a late equaliser from Bristol City forward Ebony Salmon in a six-goal thriller. The home side had raced into a 2-0 lead and held a 2-1 advantage at half-time.
Angharad James then made it 3-1, before Yana Daniels quickly put the visitors back into the game again. Then came Salmon’s 83rd minute rescue goal.