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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Brisbane Road

Hamano strike seals victory for Chelsea but Spurs show their mettle to keep Blues at bay for most of the game

Action from Spurs v Chelsea Picture: Paul Lagan
Action from Spurs v Chelsea Picture: Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Brisbane Road

Spurs 0 v Chelsea 1

Maika Hamano scored the goal that kept the Blues' title retention alive – her first-half strike was enough to see off resolute Spurs who were still suffering from their 4-0 FA Cup final loss at the weekend.

The win puts Chelsea top of the WSL – level on points with Manchester City but with a two-goal difference in their favour as the Blues head to Manchester United on Saturday while City travel to Aston Villa.

It's all to play for, but the west Londoners will have to play a lot better if they are to take the points and sustain a goal difference advantage.

This was the Chelsea that lost to Liverpool, sloppy passing, lacking in team confidence but they did just enough to overcome a Spurs side who will know better days.

It was a dominant start by the visitors as one would expect, Catarina Macario had a long-range effort, but it was well held by Barbora Votikova on two minutes.

Melanie Leupolz was next up on five minutes, again the Spurs stopper was equal to the task.

A wonderful chance fell to Japan star Maika Hamano on 14 minutes when a quick break on the left by Niamh Charles saw her left byline cross go deep and Hamano, running in tried a header but her diving effort zipped over Spurs' crossbar.

It was rapidly becoming a Liverpool away performance for the Blues who, while having the b all, were sloppy in their passing, especially in the final third.

It was that which undid them in the North West and the fear is that as the game continued in the same vein, it could produce a similar scoreline.

Erin Cuthbert had a left-footer on Target on 17 minutes while Guro Reiten skied an effort two minutes later.

Amy James-Turner hacked the ball off the line to deny Reiten as the pressure continued to rise on the home goal.

 Spurs were reduced to weak long ranger efforts, firstly by Jessica Naz and then by Grace Clinton.

Votikova was soon in action again, this time punching out a Macario rasper on 34 minutes.

But the inevitable happened and on 37 minutes it was Hamano who smashed home from eight yards out after winger Reiten, not for the first time cut the the Spurs right back apart before sending over the perfect cross for the Japan attacking wide player to take full advantage of.

Amanda Nilden was injured just before the final whistle , she received treatment, stood up before dropping back to the ground again.

She was eventually stretchered off with Charlotte Grant taking her place.

Chelsea switched off, already in the dressing room, as Clinton scuffed a good edge-of-area opportunity wide of Zecira Musovic's goal.

There were no other changes at half-time.

Spurs resumed the match on the front foot, sloppy play by Macario allowing a quick break which thankfully for the US star resulted in a corner.

The Blues looked shaky at the back and confidence looked a little short – Ashleigh Neville somehow smashed the ball home from close range when it looked easier to hit the back of the net.

The Blues weathered the storm as the home side failed to keep up the ultra pressing game.

Spurs brought off Naz and replaced her with Martha Jones, also Celin Bizet was replaced by Matilda Vinberg – both on 66 minutes.

Spurs restored their dominance of the game as Chelsea gave away another corner.

Jess Carter came on along with Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Sjoeke Nusken, off went Hamano Ashley Lawrence and Macario all on 72 minutes.

Fran Kirby and Lauren James came on for Reiten and Beever-Jones with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Nusken skied over a great chance after Rytting Kaneryd's excellent right byline cross on 85 minutes.

Clinton tried a long-range effort, that had the power, but was slightly off direction-wise and the ball went wide for a goal kick – much to the relief of the Chelsea fans behind the goal.

And that was that.

Teams: Spurs: Votikova, James-Turner, Nilden, Naz, Clinton, England, Bizet, Buhler, Spence, Summanen, Neville

Subs: Heeps, Grant, Petzelberger, Vinberg, Graham, Thomas, Ahtinen, Ayane, Wang

Chelsea: Musovic, Bright, Leupolz, Macario, Reiten, Lawrence, Charles, Cuthbert, Hamano, Beever-Jones, Bjorn

Subs: Hampton, Ingle, Nusken, Carter, James, Kirby, Mjelde, Rytting Kaneryd, Buchanan


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