Manchester City 1-2 Arsenal: Advantage Chelsea in thrilling WSL title race

Manchester City’s grasp on the their first Barclays Women’s Super League title since 2016 slipped late on at the Joie Stadium, with Stina Blackstenius masterminding a late comeback for Arsenal.

Lauren Hemp’s first-half opener looked to put the hosts on course for victory, but defeat means that even a win at Villa Park on the final day of the season may not be enough to secure the silverware.

Gareth Taylor’s Cityzens must be flawless from this point on, and are now reliant on Chelsea dropping points against Bristol City, Tottenham or Manchester United.

As it happened

There were chances aplenty for both sides throughout the opening exchanges at Joie Stadium; the first fashioned by the visitors, with Alessia Russo working her way into a dangerous area, only to see the ball put behind for a corner by City’s Alex Greenwood.

Leila Ouahabi would look to be the bright spark throughout the first half for the Cityzens, with her header held by Manuela Zinsberger after a corner was whipped in from the right – but the Spaniard would be instrumental in finding the breakthrough shortly after the quarter-hour mark.

With the angle too tight to shoot from, the left-back played in Lauren Hemp on the fringe of the six-yard box. On the turn, the England international fired across goal – burying her effort well beyond the reach of Zinsberger as she picked out the far corner with aplomb.

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Gareth Taylor’s side could have doubled their lead as the half-hour mark approached, though Yui Hasegawa’s teasing through ball ultimately failed to come to anything with Chloe Kelly in an offside position.

The Cityzens looked destined to add to their advantage just minutes into the second half, with chaos in the penalty area seeing Jess Park and Mary Fowler both attempt numerous shots on goal, only to be frustrated by an in-form Zinsberger between the Arsenal posts.

But as the hour mark came and went, Jonas Eidevall’s Gunners began to enjoy a promising spell. While Cloe Lacasse had strayed marginally offside by the time Russo had released the through ball, the visitors ventured forwards again mere moments later – Beth Mead stinging the palms of Khiara Keating, but failing to restore parity.

Mead’s second attempt to deliver the ball into the box following a corner was smothered by Keating, and the City shotstopper simply had to stand and watch as Caitlin Foord fired wide of the near post after being played through by Stina Blackstenius with less than fifteen minutes remaining.

But the tables turned dramatically in the 89th minute, when substitute Stina Blackstenius stuck a leg out inside the penalty box to turn home a Foord header – meaning that Manchester City would have to win at Villa Park on the final day to seal their first league title in nine years.

Bad turned to worse for the hosts moments later, with the Swedish forward netting her second goal of the afternoon just two minutes into the nine added on. Slipping away from her marker, Blackstenius was able to nod a deft header into the bottom corner.

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Her late heroics hand Chelsea the advantage in the title race, with Emma Hayes’ Blues merely needing to overturn a seven-goal swing in goal difference in their three remaining matches.

Post-match reactions

The lineups

MCI: Keating; Ouahabi, Greenwood, Aleixandri, Casparij; Coombs, Hasegawa, Park; Hemp, Kelly, Fowler

ARS: Zinsberger; McCabe, Codina, Williamson, Fox; Maanum, Pelova; Lacasse, Cooney-Cross, Mead; Russo

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