In this, the ninth full season of the Women’s Super League since its inception in 2011, Sunday’s titanic title battle between Manchester City and Chelsea goes down as one of the greatest games the league has ever seen in its history.


There was nothing to separate the sides in the six-goal thriller, both teams holding the lead at one point or another, and there was never anything more than a single goal in it.

It was a game that had everything, from stunning goals and landmark moments, to penalty drama and even a late WSL debut under immense pressure for City’s backup goalkeeper.


​Both sides had been on serious hot streaks in the build-up and neither backed down. Individually, the big names made sure they stepped up and delivered.


Chelsea manager Emma Hayes described it as ‘a basketball match rather than a chess match’ and a ‘game played with emotions’. Those are two key ingredients for a game of the highest quality and entertainment value.


Interim City boss Alan Mahon added that while the end-to-end contest wasn’t good for his own personal stress levels, it was a ‘great game for the neutral’.

Lauren Hemp

For The Guardian, Suzy Wrack wrote, ‘If ever there was an advert for the quality of the Women’s Super League, this was it,' while The Times' Molly Hudson called it ‘champagne football’.


Hayes wasn’t pleased with Chelsea's defending, even calling it ‘terrible’, but if years of watching all kinds of football has taught us anything it’s that suspect defending nearly always makes for better attacking opportunities and a more exciting spectacle.


Not that better defending from City could have done anything to stop Bethany England...


England superstar Ellen White was responsible for breaking the deadlock just over 20 minutes into the contest, her sixth WSL goal of the season since joining from Birmingham last summer. Chelsea’s Ji So-yun cancelled that out shortly before half time, also her sixth in the league.

White’s close-range finish was perhaps marginally offside, but there was no debating Ji’s long-range effort, which beat City stopper Ellie Roebuck thanks to a minor deflection – with Roebuck making a number of important saves both before and after the goal.


Georgia Stanway’s goal that restored City’s advantage was the 2,000th scored in the WSL and it was a strike befitting that major milestone – a rasping near-post finish that saw Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger beaten by power as much as precision.

Less than 10 minutes, later Chelsea captain Madga Eriksson connected with a diving header to make it 2-2, a goal Roebuck may feel she could have done more to keep out.


Next came more drama as Caroline Weir was felled by Sophie Ingle and City had the chance to go ahead for the third tie from the penalty spot. But Stanway couldn’t convert and double her personal tally as Berger beat the ball away.


The flying England netted her 14th WSL goal of the season to given Chelsea the lead for the first time. The 25-year-old has scored some stunners this season, but this was a level above, unleashing the ball with a superbly crisp strike from at least 30 yards out.

Teenage England call-up Lauren Hemp stabbed home a City equaliser only moments later, her fifth WSL goal of the season in a crucial moment for her club.


There was still time for more drama when Roebuck landed awkwardly on her ankle after a high claim and needed lengthy treatment before being stretchered off – thankfully, Mahon later suggested the damage isn’t likely to be as bad as initially feared. But it meant understudy stopper Karima Benameur had to step in for the final minutes on her WSL debut.


This was truly a great advert for the WSL as a thrilling and engrossing league, all the while still giving fans in the stadium incredible value for money for an afternoon of quality entertainment.


As for the title, only a point separates leaders City from second place Chelsea, who have also have a game in hand. It promises to be a thrilling battle until the end, with reigning champions Arsenal also still hoping to have their own say in the final stretch of 2019/20. Do not miss it.


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