Lauren Hemp scored a late equaliser as Manchester City fought out a thrilling 2-2 draw with Chelsea in a top of the table clash at The Academy Stadium this evening.
Chelsea took the lead through Sam Kerr’s smart header from a corner after 25 minutes before Chloe Kelly tapped in at the far post to give the hosts an equaliser just four minutes later. The visitors went into the break with a 2-1 lead after Pernille Harder scored from the penalty spot before Hemp netted from close range late in the second half to give Gareth Taylor’s side a point.
The hosts went into the match two points adrift of opponents Chelsea in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table and needing a win to go top with two games remaining.
Manchester City enjoyed an 8-0 victory over Aston Villa last weekend in the Vitality FA Women’s Cup and head coach Taylor opted to field a similar side this evening with only Sam Mewis coming into the side as Laura Coombs dropped to the bench.
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes made eight changes herself from Friday’s 5-0 win over London City Lionesses. Only Jess Carter, Melanie Leupolz and Erin Cuthbert retained their places within the starting XI while there were recalls for several key players including Ann-Katrin Berger, Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr.
Both sides started the game very strong and it was the hosts who had the first real opportunity to take the lead but Mewis wasted a brilliant chance when she headed over the bar following a dangerous left-wing cross from Hemp.
It was Chelsea who were to find the game’s first goal after 25 minutes when Kerr perfectly guided a header beyond home keeper Ellie Roebuck at her near post after connecting with a brilliant out-swinging corner from the right.
It didn’t take Manchester City long before they found an equaliser with Kelly tapping home at the far post following a dangerous attack and cross from Caroline Weir.
It was a brilliant opening half-hour from both sides. The drama continued to flow at pace when Chelsea forward Kerr earned her side a penalty after being taken out when clear through on goal. Danish international Harder sent Roebuck the wrong way from the spot to give Chelsea a 2-1 lead after 33 minutes.
Manchester City started the second half as the stronger side and they were denied the chance to level the scores once again when a wall of Chelsea defenders blocked a first time shot from Weir after Hemp had made another dangerous run into the penalty area. Their pressure paid off though when they levelled for a second time through Hemp when she slotted home beyond Berger from close range with a right-footed finish following a mix up at the back from Millie Bright.
Hemp was inspirational throughout for the home side and she was denied another goal with only 10 minutes left on the clock as Chelsea keeper Berger made a brilliant save from her fierce header following a dangerous corner on the right.
Chelsea will naturally be the happier side with the point given the fact that they remain top of the table. Victories against Tottenham Hotspur and Reading in their final two games will see them retain their crown. Manchester City must defeat Birmingham City and West Ham United and hope that The Blues slip up.