General views of Academy Stadium Manchester City Women v Chelsea Women - SSE Women's FA Cup Semi Final football match, Academy Stadium, Manchester, UK - 14 Apr 2019 Photo: Lynne Cameron for The FA

Manchester City and Chelsea play out Academy Stadium thriller

Manchester City and Chelsea played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at The Academy Stadium this afternoon, a result which keeps the title race in the South West Londoners’ hands.

Chelsea set the tone very early on and Sam Kerr almost gave them the lead straight from kick-off as she was played in behind. Her effort was blocked by the feet of home keeper Ellie Roebuck and Beth England was unable to get on the end of the rebound and convert it into the empty net.

Kerr then forced Roebuck into another good save with a guided header which looked to be drifting wide, but the City keeper had to be certain and pushed the ball behind. From the resulting corner, the ball was whipped in by Maren Mjelde, evading everyone, and found it’s way to Erin Cuthbert at the back post but a last-ditch challenge from Georgia Stanway kept the home side’s clean sheet intact.

Despite Chelsea’s early signs of dominance, it was the home team who went ahead. The ball was worked out wide to Janine Beckie on the right and she picked out Ellen White in the middle who finished first-time to give Manchester City the lead. It was the England international forward’s 100th appearance in the FA Women’s Super League and she marked the occasion with a very well taken goal.

It wasn’t long until Chelsea had a goal of their own. A cross into the City box was headed clear and fell to Ji So-Yun 25 yards from goal. She took the ball under control on her chest and it sat up nicely for her to volley  into the bottom corner. The teams went in at the break level at 1-1 but was an end-to-end opening 45 minutes which saw both teams create very good chances. However, the game really sprung into life after the interval.

With Chelsea having committed players forward, Stanway powered her way into the penalty area and fired the ball beyond Blues keeper Ann-Katrin Berger who couldn’t react quickly enough.

Chelsea responded immediately when Magdalena Eriksson got on the end of a Beth England flick on to send the ball beyond Roebuck to make it 2-2.

Manchester City were thengifted a golden opportunity to regain the lead. Less than 60 seconds after Chelsea drew level, Caroline Weir was tripped by Sophie Ingle in the area and the referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Stanway stepped up and rifled a low shot towards the bottom corner, however, Berger guessed the right way and got her whole body behind the ball to deny City’s number 10.

In a game of quality moments, England elevated herself above everyone else with an absolute rocket and a Goal of the Season contender, she thumped the ball into the top corner of the net from 30 yards. That goal gave Chelsea the lead for the first time in the game, however, it did not last long. Weir picked up the ball just outside the penalty area and threaded a pass into the Chelsea box. Mjelde looked like she was going to deal with it comfortably but Lauren Hemp reacted quickest to reach the ball and poke it past Berger, bringing the score to 3-3.

That was how the scoreline remained in what was an extraordinary spectacle that will live long in FA Women’s Super League folklore. The result means that City remain top of the league on 40 points, however, Chelsea stay just one point behind with a game in hand knowing that their fate is in their own hands going into the business end of the season.

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