2021-22 FA Women's Super League
  • Guro Reiten (14')

Chelsea close gap on WSL leaders Arsenal after win vs. Man City

Chelsea earned a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday, closing the gap behind Women's Super League leaders Arsenal to just two points with a game in hand.

Emma Hayes' side, who dominated large spells of the match, opened the scoring on 14 minutes with a looping header from midfielder Guro Reiten. City found their groove later in the contest but were unable to find a way past Chelsea's steadfast defence.

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Chelsea took advantage of their stumbling London rivals Arsenal, who were held to a 1-1 draw against Manchester United on Saturday.

Sunday's result at the Kingsmeadow Stadium sets up a top-of the-table grudge match when Arsenal travel to Chelsea on Friday.

"I thought it was a calm, measured, champion-like performance," Hayes said after the match. "What this team does really well is what they do in the business-end of the season, producing performance after performance. It's dogged, a lot of players in many different positions sometimes."

Chelsea dominated the opening spell and earned an early reward as Jess Carter found space on the right flank before floating a cross into the box where it was met by the head of Reiten.

The reigning WSL champions continued to pile on pressure, with the league's leading scorer, striker Sam Kerr, attracting much of the attention from the City defenders.

City found a foothold in the game midway through the first half, and the visitors came closest when forward Jess Park fired a volley from the edge of the box, forcing a superb diving save from home goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger.

Kerr nearly doubled Chelsea's lead moments into the second half when she raced down the left wing before slotting wide past City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck. Another flurry of chances for Chelsea followed, including two denied penalty calls -- first, when Erin Cuthbert went down in the box under a challenge from Ruby Mace, followed by a close-range handball shout after Penille Harder's cross found Mace's hand.

City dominated the remainder of the contest as Chelsea looked to hold on to an important three points, and the best of the visitor's chances came when Caroline Weir snatched at a glorious opportunity at the death after she collected an over-the-top through ball and dribbled to the left-hand side of the six yard box but struck a disappointing looped shot that failed to trouble goalkeeper Berger.

When asked about whether her team will be fired-up for Friday's clash with Arsenal, Hayes said: "I think to be honest with you, when you have got so many games in quick succession it's kind of hard to get it up. You're just trying to get ready again.

"The accumulation [of matches] at this stage of the season means getting fresh again is so critical, and it is really hard to do it when you've got back-to-back games."

The result meant Chelsea completed a league double over City, having previously stormed to a 4-0 victory when the two sides met in the reverse fixture in November.

City remain in fifth place, a significant decline for a side that has finished second the last five-consecutive seasons since lifting their maiden WSL title in 2016.

This season's WSL has been one of the closest fought in its 12-year history, with just six points separating the top four sides.