Chelsea on the brink to retaining WSL title after 2-0 over nemesis Arsenal at Kingsmeadow
By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium
Chelsea 2 v Arsenal 0
Guro Reiten’s trusty left foot propelled Chelsea to the brink of retaining their WSL title as the Blues defeated arch nemesis Arsenal 2-0 at Kingsmeadow.
It was poetic that the second goal was scored by club skipper Magda Eriksson, who tucked home from close range just before half-time.
It was her last game as a Blue, at home, after six years at the club.
The Blues could even be crowned champions later today if Manchester United fail to defeat Manchester City.
The Blues are five points ahead of United with just one game remaining - next Sunday’s end of season trip way to relegation-haunted Reading where a point is all that is needed to give the Blues their fourth title in a row,
The stars were always aligned in Chelsea’s favour as they even saw a shanked Katie McCabe penalty hit the advertising boards rather than the back of the net.
Had that kick gone it it could have signalled a comeback for the Gooners against a home side who visibly tired after their recent run of games every three days.
Chelsea started the best they have done for ages - Arsenal had not got a foot in the Blues half for the first five minutes.
The ball was put in the back of the net by Sam Kerr but she was offside on 10 minutes.
Arsenal began their threat -mostly on the break.
And on 13 minutes an Eve Perisset blunder in midfield allowed Stina Blackstenius to break free. But her shot, while on target, was smothered by Ann-Karin Berger.
And on 22 minutes it needed. Little bit of class to open up a tough Arsenal defence.
When the ball fell to Perssit on 22 minutes, she arrowed a wonderful,angled far post cross to in-running Guro Reiten, who slid in with the perfect left-footed strike that cut straight into the back of Berger then produced a terrific save to stop a thunderbolt from Frida mana um which she could only parry onto her right post before she slapped the ball clear.
With Arsenal looking to attack the Blues on the break the Blues opted to use set pieces, and with five mi utes left on the clock in the first half, a Reiten cross was met by Sam Kerr , the ball went across the line and Magda Eriksson tucked home from close range to make it 2-0.
Pernille Harder, working with Reiten and Kerr had the first; chance of the second half, when she spun her defender and let fly with a right-footer. Zinsberger managed to get her right boot to the ball and deflect it away for a corner.
But on 60 minutes, Arsenal got a penalty after Katie McCabe’s shot was hit on the hand by Sophie Ingle.
Up stepped the midfielder who shanked the spot kick well wide.
The Blues were under the cosh, with Berger producing a fine diving save to her right to thwart McCabe again.
Hayes sensing the tide was turning against her side, brought on defensive-minded Jess Carter for forward Lauren James on 62 minutes.
Harder’s final game as a Blue at Kingsmeadow ended on 73 minutes, Jessie Fleming replaced the Dane.
The Blues managed to keep Arsenal at bay and the fans shouted their delight as the final whistle was blown.
Teams: Chelsea, Berger, Ingle, James, Reiten, Perisset, Eriksson, Mjelde, Kerr, Charles, Cuthbert, Harder
Subs: Musovic, Carter, Leupolz, Fleming, Rytting Kaneryd, Buchanan, Abdullina, Cankovic
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Souza, Wubben-May, Beattie, Maanum, McCabe, Maritz, Foord, Pelova, Kuhn, Blackstenius,
subs: D’Angelo, Marckese, Catley, Hurtig, Queiroz Costa, Taylor, Godfrey