Chelsea bounced back from their surprise opening day defeat to Liverpool to secure their maiden WSL victory of the season with a 2-0 win over Manchester City.
Goals from Fran Kirby and Maren Mjelde either side of half time saw Emma Hayes’ side to victory, leaving City still looking for their first points of the season.
Chelsea started the brighter and almost opened the scoring inside 30 seconds as Sam Kerr fired the wrong side of the post after Guro Reiten had crept in behind the City backline.
Kerr was then gifted a sighting of goal by a lax Steph Houghton back pass, but the Australian striker opted to pass to Kirby instead of going for goal herself.
It looked like it was a question of when, not if, Chelsea would break the deadlock, but City grew into the game. Bunny Shaw looked particularly lively as the focal point of the attack, embarking on a mazy run before going down on the edge of the area, and seeing an effort deflect just wide.
Chloe Kelly was denied by a last ditch Maren Mjelde block and Lauren Hemp forced a near-post save from Ann-Katrin Berger as the visitors continued to look dangerous in an end-to-end encounter.
But it was Chelsea who took the lead on the stroke of half time via a terrific team move. Jessie Fleming got the better of Steph Houghton with a sublime shimmy and fed Reiten, who laid the ball into the path of Kirby to stroke home.
City almost bit straight back, Laura Coombs forcing a Berger into a great save at the back post to preserve Chelsea’s lead at the break.
The second half was a cagier affair. The impressive Lauren James bent an effort narrowly wide and drew a strong save from Ellie Roebuck following a surging run as the Blues searched for a second.
Chelsea did double their lead with 12 minutes remaining, Maren Mjelde dispatching confidently from the penalty spot after Leila Ouahabi had been penalised for handball to put the game beyond City’s reach.
GK: Ann-Katrin Berger – 8/10 – Making her first start of the season following her thyroid cancer treatment, made two huge saves in the first half to keep out Hemp and Coombs.
RB: Maren Mjelde – 8/10 – Popped up with an important last ditch block to keep out Kelly in the first half. Did a good job nullifying the usually destructive Hemp and got on the scoresheet from the penalty spot.
CB: Millie Bright – 6/10 – Made an important intervention in the second half to prevent Shaw having an effort on goal. Had a real physical battle with Shaw.
CB: Kadeisha Buchanan – 6/10 – Brought the ball out confidently from the back on a number of occasions and enjoyed a fascinating physical tussle with Shaw.
LB: Madgalena Eriksson – 6/10 – Tested a bit more defensively in the latter stages of the first half as City grew into the game, but largely solid as City’s usual wide threat was kept relatively quiet.
CM: Erin Cuthbert – 7/10 – Chelsea’s deepest midfielder. Tireless, dogged, energetic and tidy in possession. Combined well with Fleming.
CM: Jessie Fleming – 7/10 – Influential in Chelsea’s opener, getting the better of Houghton with a terrific piece of skill. Replaced just after the hour.
CAM: Fran Kirby – 8/10 – Sent Kerr scampering away with great ball early in the first half. Opened the scoring with a cool finish inside the box and combined well with the front three.
RW: Lauren James – 9/10 – So many flashes of genius in tight spaces – including a fabulous step over to give Houghton the slip in the first half, and riding three challenges on the half way line before spraying the ball to Reiten. Sheer class.
ST: Sam Kerr – 6/10 – Fired narrowly wide inside 30 seconds. Passed to Kirby when she should have gone herself after picking Houghton’s pocket. Kept quieter in the second half.
LW: Guro Reiten – 7/10 – In behind inside 30 seconds to tee up Kerr, and picked out Kirby for Chelsea’s opener. Really lively and direct inn the first half, getting the better of Casparij on a few occasions.
SUB: Sophie Ingle – 6/10
SUB: Eve Perisset – N/A
SUB: Niamh Charles – N/A
SUB: Johanna Rytting Kaneryd – N/A
GK: Ellie Roebuck – 6/10 – Palmed away a dangerous, deep cross from Reiten in the second half and made a great save to keep out James. Couldn’t have done much about either goal.
RB: Kerstin Casparij – 6/10 – Making her WSL debut. Got beaten by Reiten on a couple of occasions and struggled when the Chelsea winger had a go at her. Looked promising going forward; sent Kelly scampering away with a cracking ball in the first half.
CB: Steph Houghton – 5/10 – Fortunate to not be punished after her loose back pass was picked up by Kerr early in the first half, but beaten all ends up by Fleming in the build up to Chelsea’s opener – with Sarina Wiegman in the stands.
CB: Alex Greenwood – 6/10 – Typically tidy in possession and solid defensively.
LB: Leila Ouahabi – 5/10 – Making her WSL debut, beaten by the quick feet of James on a number of occasions and struggled against the impressive Chelsea forward. Conceded a penalty for handball for Chelsea’s second.
CM: Laia Aleixandri – 6/10 – Tidy in possession, flicked an effort just the wrong side of the post early in the second half. Growing into the deep lying midfield role after struggling a bit last week.
CM: Laura Coombs – 6/10 – Had a fizzing strike deflect over following a flowing team move and saw an effort kept out by Berger on the stroke of half time.
CM: Deyna Castellanos – 5/10 – Making her maiden WSL start and looked lively in the final third. Faded in the second half.
RW: Chloe Kelly – 6/10 – Fired low at Berger and saw another effort kept out by a Mjelde block, having worked the opportunity herself. Quieter in the second half after being largely starved of service.
ST: Bunny Shaw – 7/10 – Looked bright from the off, riding three challenges with a burst forward deep in the Chelsea half and having an effort narrowly deflect wide in the opening 45. City’s most dangerous player.
LW: Lauren Hemp – 5/10 – Saw a near post effort saved by Berger having won possession back herself in the first half but otherwise quiet and not her usual destructive self.
SUB: Hayley Raso – 5/10
SUB: Julie Blakstad – N/A
SUB: Vicky Losada – N/A