Magical Kirby sets up the goals and scores as well as the Blues beat Man City 3-1 in WSL thriller
Photo by Paul Lagan
By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadum
Chelsea 3 - Manchester City 1
Fran Kirby scored the third and decisive goal that restored a two-goal lead as the Londoners despatched fellow title contenders Manchester City 3-1 at Kingsmeadow this afternoon.
It was a tense match that saw the Blues take the lead from the penalty spot when Demi Stokes was unluckily adjudged to have handled the ball - Maren Mjelde made no mistake with the spot kick on 36 minutes. The three points looked safe when Sam Kerr, stroked the ball home to double the lead, but a penalty for the visitors 18 minutes from the final whistle reduced the deficit, before Erin Cuthbert pierced the City rearguard, setting up woman-of-the-match Kirby to latch onto the ball, round Ellie Roebuck and calmly slot the ball home to make it three.
The Blues are third in the WSL, two points behind Arsenal and Everton who have 100 per cent records after four matches.
It was a feisty start to the game, with neither side giving an inch.
The first speculative effort on goal, fell to the visitors with Chloe Kelly trying her lick from 25 yard, but her right-footer went high and wide f Ann-Katrin Berger’s goal on five minutes.
A swift counter-attack by the Blues saw Pernille Hardee’s edge of the City penalty area, deflected for a corner. From the resultant kick on 16 minutes, the ball fell to Sam Kerr, but the Australian striker blasted over Ellie Roebuck’s cross bar from a tight angle.
harder tried again on 20 minutes after excellent set-up play by Erin Cuthbert, but that too was over the crossbar.
Sam Mewis saw her left-dotted daisy-cutter clip off Berger’s right post on 24 minutes as the visitors started to dominate possession, with Chelsea reliant on counter-attacks.
Millie Bright was the first into Rebecca Welch’s book fro. Late challenge on Caroline Weir on 33 minutes.
Chelsea had a shout for a penalty two minutes later when a Kirby shot bounced off Demi Stokes arm. but the appeal fell on deaf ears.
But a minute later, on 36 minutes and Cuthbert produced a blaster and Stokes handled to give the spot kick. Up stepped Mjelde to plant the ball into the right corner, sending Roebuck the wrong way to give the home side a 1-0 led.
Bonner then kicked it off the line after a ping-pong sequence which saw Harder turn 180 degrees to left fly with a right-footer.
A Kerr header deep into added time was on target, but well-held by Roebuck.
Mewis hacked down Eriksson a minute later and was shon a yellow card.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
On 50 minutes, Cuthbert saw a low drive from the edge of the City penalty era, inch wide of Roebuck’s goal.
On another quick break, on 52 minutes, Kirby raced along the right wing, she sent over the perfect cross to Kerr, but again the striker failed to hit the target despite meeting the ball perfectly with a header.
Three minutes later and Chelsea should have doubled the lead- a mistake by Lucy Bronze let in Cuthbert, who raced clear. The attacking midfielder thundered the ball over the crossbar.
But the goal finally came on 58 minutes, and once again Kirby was the provider from the right. She sent across the perfect ball, and this time Kerr made no mistake to slot the ball cooly home past Roebuck.
City made two changes, White was taken off, with Rose Lavelle taking her place and Jess Park was replaced by Georgia Stanway, both on 60 minutes.
Emma Hayes made her first change on 69 minutes, Beth England entering the fray for Harder.
City got a penalty on 72 minutes when Bright was adjudged yo have handled the ball.
Kelly thumped home the ball into the top right hand corner to pull the deficit back to one.
Kerr was then taken off to be replaced by Niamh Charles on 74 minutes.
But the two goals were restored on 78 minutes when an excellent Cuthbert through bal was picked up until in-racing Kirby. The striker took the ball round Roebuck, who had come out, and the definitive midfielder curled home a smart left-footer into the empty net.
The next substitute saw Ji replaced by Wales captain Sophie Ingle on 85 minutes.
Teams: Chelsea, Berger, Bright, Leupolz, Ji, Kirby, Eriksson, Mjelde, Kerr, Cuthbert, Harder, Andersson
subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Ingle, England, Reiten, Jessie Fleming, Charles, Charlotte Fleming
Man City; Roebuck, Stokes, Bonner, Houghton, Kelly, Park, White, Weir, Bronze, Mewis, Walsh
Subs: Bardsley, Benameur Taieb, Coombs, Scott, Stanway, Beckie, Morgan, Lavelle, Greenwood
Referee: Rebecca Walsh