Manchester United women’s unbeaten run has come to an end as they lost 3-1 to defending champions Chelsea in front of a record crowd at Leigh Sports Village.
The first five minutes saw both teams trying to hang on to possession, but careless errors from both sides prevented either of them from stealing a drive.
The first chance of the half came for United when Russo made a brilliant run, returning it to Ladd, whose shot was tame. The keeper was unable to hold him off, but Parris was only able to find the side net with the follow through and was injured in the process.
Chelsea were pushing forward and got into a couple of good positions but, to the relief of United’s backline, they were flagged for offside.
A corner for Chelsea was kicked out and eventually Earps plucked it out of the sky.
A late challenge led to a United free-kick, a fine delivery from Zelem having to be headed from behind by the Chelsea defence.
The fans were thrilled by United’s first corner, but Zelem couldn’t find a United player.
Earps was forced to make a good save just over half an hour later, flipping the bar around a corner.
United’s heavy pressure almost paid off when the Reds forced the Chelsea goalkeeper into a mistake, but Toone was unable to pass and Chelsea recovered.
6 minutes into injury time ensued and Chelsea launched an attack, but Earps was alive in the face of danger and once again picked up and held the ball well.
United started the second half on the front foot when Hayley Ladd delivered a good cross, but it was a bit too high for Russo to focus on.
Chelsea had a chance to break, but the United defense managed to pull back in time to prevent James from deflecting their shot.
United had a great chance at the other end thanks to Russo’s persistence as he kept running towards defenders, but no one was there to convert his cross.
Sloppy play at the back led to an easy shot for Sam Kerr and United fell behind for the first time this season.
Moments later, James returned to torment the Reds as she fit in for two.
It was wave after wave now of Chelsea attacks and again Earps was called in, who dove to his left to hit a shot and Kerr’s follow-up was tame and picked up easily.
Against the grain of the game, United clipped a shot, Russo kept his cool as he went one-on-one with the keeper and calmly placed him in the far corner.
United were hungry for a second as the fans reinvigorated themselves.
The Reds withstood pressure from Chelsea and had a brilliant chance of their own, but Zelem’s powerful shot from the edge of the area narrowly missed.
Maya Le Tissier made a great block to deny Chelsea a third, but in stoppage time a poor clearance landed at the Blues’ feet and a deflection put it out of Earps’ reach.
It was all over for the reds. His winning streak had come to an end. Team: Earps, Blundell, Thorisdottir, Turner, Le Tissier, Zelem, Toone, Ladd, Galton, Parris (Thomas), Russo (Williams)