Manchester City Women 2-2 Chelsea Women: Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder on target as visitors move closer to Women’s Super League title after entertaining draw
- Chelsea’s defence of their Women’s Super League title is still in their hands
- The visitors twice led through Kerr and Harder at The Academy Stadium
- Lauren Hemp thumped in a equaliser for the home side in the 74th minute
- Man City remain two points behind Chelsea with two games remaining
Chelsea have one hand on the WSL title after holding Manchester City to a 2-2 draw to maintain their two-point lead at the top with two games left to play.
City knew a victory at the Academy Stadium would put their fate in their own hands but they must now hope the Blues slip up against either Tottenham or Reading.
For Emma Hayes’ side, who take on Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Sunday, the quadruple is still on and the Chelsea boss insisted she was not thinking about silverware after a nervy ending.
Chelsea’s defence of their Women’s Super League title is still in their hands
Manchester City (4-3-3): Roebuck 6, Bronze 6, Dahlkemper 6, Greenwood 6, Stokes 6, Walsh 6, Mewis 6 (Stanway 74), Weir 6, Hemp 7, Kelly 7, White 6 (Lavelle 63)
Subs: Taieb, Mannion, Coombs, Stanway, Beckie, Morgan, Park, Davies
Scorers: Kelly 29, Hemp 74
Manager: Gareth Taylor 7
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Berger 8, Carter 6, Bright 6, Ingle 6, Andersson 6, Leupolz 6, Ji 6 (Reiten 76), Cuthbert 6, Harder 6.5 (Charles 61), Kirby 6 (England 89), Kerr 7
Subs: Musovic, Blundell, Fleming, Spence, Telford, Fox
Scorers: Kerr 25, Harder 34
Manager: Emma Hayes 6
Referee: Rebecca Welch 7
‘Is 2-2 a fair result? I don’t care, it’s over. I’m not thinking about the trophy,’ she said. ‘ I’m thinking about calming down, having a cup of tea, going home.
‘I was so relieved, I hated every minute of the second half. It was uncomfortable, it was painful. I’m exhausted now from my blood sugar levels of that half.
‘I don’t think I’ve got the energy (to think about Bayern Munich), the girls have put me through hell in the second half. I’ll see them Friday morning, I need some space to reflect because I did not enjoy that.’
Sam Kerr has been in brilliant form since the start of the year and the league’s top scorer was at the heart of everything Chelsea did in the first half.
The striker had a header cleared off the line by Alex Greenwood in the 14th minute but the Australian would not be denied a second time. Kerr rose highest to meet Erin Cuthbert’s corner and powered in a bullet header to score her 18th goal of the season. Greenwood, who was covering the near post, will perhaps feel she should have been tighter to clear the ball off the line once more.
Kerr could have doubled the Blues’ lead almost instantly but her strike from the edge of the box fizzed wide and it looked like that miss could prove costly as City levelled five minutes later.
Caroline Weir played in Lauren Hemp down the left wing and her cross found Chloe Kelly, who got in front of Jonna Andersson to tap-in at the back-post.
Rebecca Welsh was the referee who controversially awarded Chelsea a penalty in the reverse fixture at Kingsmeadow, giving a handball against Ellen White despite it hitting Demi Stokes. While that decision was poor, the official made the right call to give the Blues another spot-kick at the Academy Stadium.
Sam Kerr scored the opener for Chelsea with a powerful header in the 25th minute
Pernille Harder’s spot-kick had given the visitors a half-time lead on Wednesday night
Kerr left Greenwood for dead on the left wing and was clear through on goal before being brought down in the area by City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck. The shot-stopper protested that she had got a touch on the ball but her challenge was clumsy and Welsh was unequivocally pointed to the spot. Pernille Harder stepped up to restore Chelsea’s lead, sending Roebuck the wrong way to claim her ninth goal of the season.
Chelsea had Ann-Katrin Berger to thank for preserving their lead at the end of the first half, with the goalkeeper producing a brilliant acrobatic save to tip Lucy Bronze’s volley over the crossbar.
Just as the home side looked to be running out of ideas, a rare mistake from Fran Kirby allowed them back into the game in the 74th minute. Kelly pounced on a poor back-pass from the Chelsea forward to send a cross into the middle. Millie Bright swung a wild boot and her half clearance fell to Hemp at the back post. The winger took a touch before firing a shot past Berger into the right corner of the net.
That goal gave City the lift they needed and Hemp would have put her side ahead had it not been for the fingertips of Berger. The winger’s header was destined for the top corner but the Blues shot-stopper did brilliantly to tip the ball on to the crossbar.
Berger was there again to get a strong behind Georgia Stanway’s swerving shot to the bottom left corner as City desperately looked for the winning goal they needed.
A late equaliser from Lauren Hemp ensured City remain two points behind Chelsea
Hayes was full of praise for her No 1, who was embraced by her team-mates at full-time. ‘She is an unbelievable asset to the team, she’s the best goalkeeper in this country,’ Hayes said. ‘I think she’s improving, the more pressure, the more she responds. There’s a mentality in the dressing room that if we’re not playing well, someone is going to bail us out, you cannot underestimate how valuable that is.’
Lucy Bronze had the best chance to win it at the end when she ghosted in at the back post but her glancing header went agonisingly wide.
City boss Taylor said his side will keep fighting till the end of the season in the hope Chelsea drop points in their remaining fixtures.
‘We make sure we focus on what we’re able to control. We need to take care of those two games and remain unbeaten at CFA. We need to give ourselves the best possible chance.
‘You can understand the disappointment (from the players), I thought the girls left everything out there. We dominated proceedings in the second half and looked like we were going to get the winner. It took a world class save from their keeper to keep them in it.’