Manchester City blew the Women’s Super League title race wide open after dominating a tired-looking Chelsea in a 2-0 win at the City Football Academy.

Chelsea looked fragile defensively throughout the opening period – just four days after beating Lyon in their Champions League quarter-final first leg – and it was Filippa Angeldahl’s arrowing strike which deservedly put City in front on 21 minutes, her first goal in the WSL.

Lauren Hemp doubled City’s lead with a precise finish across goal (30), forcing Chelsea manager Emma Hayes into a double change before the interval. Hayes had stern words with her players at the break but the hosts held firm to inflict only a second league defeat of the season on their opponents.

The result moves City level on 38 points with WSL leaders Manchester United – second only on goal difference – while Chelsea slip to third place, albeit with a game in hand, ahead of their second leg against Lyon on Thursday.

Hemp had City in control against the champions

Image: Hemp had City in control against the champions

Player ratings

Man City: Roebuck (6), Aleixandri (7), Houghton (7), Greenwood (8), Morgan (7), Hasegawa (8), Angeldal (8), Kelly (8), Coombs (8), Hemp (7), Shaw (7).

Subs: Blakstad (n/a).

Chelsea: Berger (6), Carter (6), Mjelde (5), Eriksson (6), Kadeisha Buchanan (5), Leupolz (6), Ingle (5), James (5), Reiten (6), Cuthbert (6), Kerr (5).

Subs: Fleming (n/a), Johanna Kaneryd (6), Charles (6), Cankovic (6).

Player of the match: Alex Greenwood.

European exertions catch up with Chelsea

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Chelsea Women manager, Emma Hayes believes her side’s busy schedule caught up with them in their 2-0 defeat at Manchester City.

Chelsea manager Hayes told BBC afterwards: “We lost. I was proud of the second-half performance. It’s important now we get all our thoughts into Thursday. It’s a tough loss but well done Manchester City.

“Absolutely [we looked tired]. But I’m not going to say a negative word about my players. I love them. I know how hard they pushed in the second half. This was one game too many.

“It’s so hard to win a league when you’re in all competitions with a game every three days. Today’s performance reflected that.”

Team news

  • Ellie Roebuck returned in goal for Manchester City with Sandy McIver dropping to the bench, while Esme Morgan replaced Leila Ouahabi. Khadija Shaw, who had scored all five of Man City’s goals in their previous two matches, started up front.
  • Millie Bright was absent for Chelsea after going off injured against Lyon on Wednesday. Kadeisha Buchanan partnered captain Magda Eriksson in central defence for the Blues. Sam Kerr led the line as she sought her 50th WSL goal.

Chelsea tried to apply pressure after the break but were unable to create a real chance until stoppage time, when Melanie Leupolz volleyed over, and their miserable day was compounded by an injury to Erin Cuthbert, who limped off the pitch in tears.

Man City have not won the WSL since 2016 and had not beaten Chelsea in their previous 11 attempts.

For Chelsea, there will be plenty of soul-searching ahead of their second meeting with Lyon. They responded well to the Continental Cup defeat to Arsenal, winning their next four in all competitions, and they will have to show similar resolve again.

Lauren James runs at the Man City defence

Image: Lauren James runs at the Man City defence

The visitors had the opportunity to move to the top of the standings with a victory but looked far from their best as the result dropped Hayes’ side to third, one point behind United and City. However, the London side have a game in hand.

City took the lead in the 21st minute when Angeldahl scored her first WSL goal from the corner of the box, floating a shot past goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger, who stood rooted to the spot as she watched the ball sail into the top corner.

The home side doubled their lead at the half-hour mark when Hemp, who assisted the opener, pounced on a poor clearance and took her shot on the half-volley to beat the ‘keeper.

Chelsea improved in the second half but struggled in the final third as City also slowed the tempo of the game down to deny the London side chances as they took the three points to set up a thrilling title race with six games left in the season.

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Manchester City Women defender Esme Morgan says she has been trying to make people believe that her side can still win the WSL title.

City fire WSL title warning

Lauren Hemp celebrates after doubling Man City's lead

Image: Hemp celebrates after doubling Man City’s lead

Sky Sports’ Anton Toloui:

“This is an absolutely huge result for Manchester City. We’re going to have one of the most fascinating title run-ins we’ve had in recent seasons.

“Today, City have been absolutely magnificent. Goals from Angeldahl and Hemp in the first half did the damage. They were comfortable in the second half and hardly gave Chelsea a chance.

“Roebuck didn’t have to make a save in the second period and that really says it all. It was a frustrating day for Chelsea, who don’t have many days like this.

Man City's Filippa Angeldal (second right) celebrates with her team-mates after scoring their first goal

Image: Angeldal (second right) celebrates with her team-mates after scoring City’s first goal

“We have four teams separated by three points heading into the final two months of the season. It doesn’t get much better than that.

“Despite going 13 games unbeaten heading into this game, City were the underdogs as they hadn’t beaten Chelsea in the league for almost four years. They sent a message to them and the rest of the division today as they no longer want to be seen as the bridesmaids.

“They want to be seen as a true title contender, and they proved it today as they were by far the better team. Chelsea came into this off the back of the Champions League tie but Emma Hayes won’t be making any excuses. They were sub-par today.”

Goalscorer Lauren Hemp celebrates beating Chelsea

Image: Goalscorer Lauren Hemp celebrates beating Chelsea

Taylor: Still Chelsea’s title to lose

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Manchester City Women head coach, Gareth Taylor says the WSL title is still in Chelsea’s hands despite his side’s 2-0 win over their rivals.

Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor:

“In the second half I felt quite calm. We surrendered a little bit of possession but I didn’t feel much threat and that’s a nice position to be in.

“Two-nil is always a dodgy scoreline – I spoke to the girls at half time about that. If we score the third the game is done. It was nice to be able to come in at half time against Chelsea positive.

“We were really encouraged today by the way we pressed. Both goals came from us winning the ball high and making good decisions. We had a few more opportunities.

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“Overall really pleased. It’s three points. It’s still Chelsea’s title to lose, but it’s a real positive step for us. It gives us good confidence going into the next period.

“To get to this position after losing the first two games of the season is pretty remarkable. The players need to take great credit for that. We’re a new team, with new players, but we’ve got high levels of confidence.”

Player of the match – Alex Greenwood

Key to Manchester City’s success, particularly in the first half, was the form of Greenwood and the role she carried out in marshalling Sam Kerr. She is such an accomplished passer and has a natural ability to bring the ball out, turning Chelsea to focus on defence rather than attack.

It forced Hayes into a tactical reshuffle to get more support to her strikers as Sophie Ingle and Lauren James were withdrawn in order for Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Niamh Charles to enter the fray.

What’s next?

Sunday 2nd April 6:30pm Kick off 6:45pm

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    Man City are next in action when travelling to Arsenal on April 2, kick-off 12.30pm, while Chelsea face a trip to Aston Villa later the same day, kick-off 6.45pm, live on Sky Sports.