Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United: Fran Kirby sends Chelsea to the top of the WSL
Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Chelsea's avenged themselves in their 2-1 win at Kingsmeadow over Manchester United in the team's second clash of the season. Blues' keeper, Ann-Katrin Berger, got the assist for Fran Kirby's game winning shot and United could not come back from a goal down for a second time. 

This match could prove crucial for the title race as United are kicked off the top of the Women's Super League summit for the first time since November and Chelsea lead on goal difference, but with a game in hand.

Casey Stoney's side couldn't match up to Chelsea's intensity and aggressiveness to see out the match and failed to rescue a point away from home. 

  • Story of the match

Chelsea started the half strong and immediately put United on their backheels. After mass postponement last week, Stoney's side have not played a match since before the holiday break whereas Emma Hayes' side played ninety minutes and have found their tempo again after the pause.

It was noticeable, United weren't as ready as Chelsea for this right off the whistle and Sam Kerr got her first clear opportunity of the afternoon just three minutes into the match.

Just a minute later, Kerr had her second shot and United looked like they were going to concede early. Chelsea managed to keep the Reds in their own half for the opening 20 minutes of the match. 

Kirby and Kerr were Chelsea's biggest threats attacking down the middle and the left wing. With Ona Batlle staying high on the wing, Amy Turner was left often 1v1 with Kerr down the wing. 

It wasn't until the 26th minute when United found themselves in good position after Kirsty Hanson beat Jonna Andersson on the right wing and crossed a ball into the box. After a bounce off Millie Bright, the ball fell into the feet of Christen Press who managed an awkward shot falling just wide of the goal. 

When United seemed to have gotten into some kind of rhythm, Pernille Harder poked Chelsea in front from a messy corner kick, which United failed to clear. Turner cleared the ball from the line, but after Kirby's volley rattled off the post, Harder netted the ball past the sea of red in front of the goal line.

United react immediately to being a goal down and found themselves on the attack. Hanson and Leah Galton switched sides on the wings and it proved beneficial.

A brilliant build-up play left Hanson 1v1 with Berger and the Scottish was cool to take a touch around the keeper and pass the ball into the net, but it was called offside. 

Chelsea saw out the rest of the first half and United were happy just being a goal down given their hosts had 11 shots to United's two. 

The second half started like the first with Chelsea off to an aggressive start to double their advantage. 

Ten minutes in, Stoney made her first 'gamechaning' substitution, Lauren James on for Press. Just after six minutes from coming on, James bends a superb ball into the corner, well out of Berger's reach for United's equaliser.

United were settling into the match and picking up fluidity in their game putting Chelsea on their backheels consistently for the first time.

With eagerness to get the ball out of her half, Berger kicks the ball as far as she can, way past the United backline who have to run back facing their own goal to try and control the ball.

Kirby beats the two centre backs at getting Berger's ball and she cooly slots home past Mary Earps to put Chelsea back in the lead in the 65th minute. 

Chelsea's experience over United showed and the home side were able to see out and control the rest of the match without much of a fuss as United finished the afternoon with just one shot on target. 

  • Standout player

Fran Kirby has been unstoppable as of late and she showed that again today. Getting on the end of Berger's kick was a result of her resilience, passion and strength. Amy Turner wasn't able to body her off the ball and Kirby fired past Earps with such ease. 

She wasn't as involved in the match as much being the top striker, but when she would drop to the receive the ball she easily evaded United's press. The partnership that is flourishing with Harder and Kerr can become the deadliest of Europe. 

There has to be honourable mention to both Ona Batlle and Ella Toone who handled the Chelsea press and attack brilliantly.