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Player ratings as Blues take the lead in WSL title race


Chelsea took control of the Women’s Super League title race with a narrow 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night.

Emma Hayes’ side needed a win to get ahead of Manchester City at the top the table on goal difference. The result now takes the race, that the Chelsea had previously declared “done”, to the final day when they will take on Manchester United at Old Trafford. City are away to Aston Villa.

Just two goals separate the top two on goal difference and it could come down to that if both teams win their respective remaining fixture.

As expected, Chelsea dominated possession and created a majority of the opportunities in the first half. The first major opportunity came just shy of the 15-minute mark as Niamh Charles made a lung-busting run down the left and found Maika Hamano with her cross, but the Japan international couldn’t put her diving header on target.

The first real chance for Spurs came a few minutes later as Jess Naz picked the ball up in a good area and had the opportunity to play the pass to Celin Bizet in space. However, too many touches meant the passing lane was cut off and she took the shot on instead, firing it comfortably as Zecira Musovic.

Hamano made up for her previous miss before half-time as she broke the deadlock. Guro Reiten found space down the left and, this time, Hamano finished the cross with ease.

Spurs had a flurry of chances moments before the whistle, but Grace Clinton’s effort missed the target and then there was nobody in the box to meet a dangerous cross from Naz. Much like Sunday’s FA Cup final against Manchester United, it was the final ball that was letting Spurs down.

Robert Vilahamn’s side looked the more threatening in the early exchanges after the break. Defenders Luana Buhler and Ashleigh Neville both had opportunities but couldn’t find the net.

Chelsea regained a foothold as the second-half wore on and Hayes’ substitutes certainly made a difference and allowed them to see out the result. Despite a late onslaught from Spurs, the current champions just about held on for the win.

Bethany England, Jess Carter

Bethany England of Tottenham battles for the ball against Chelsea’s Jess Carter / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

GK: Barbora Votikova – 6/10 – Parried a few chances in the first half and was fortunate Chelsea couldn’t capitalise. 

RB: Ashleigh Neville – 6/10 – A difficult night up against Reiten and was beaten by the winger on a handful of occasions. Swapped flanks when Charlotte Grant came on for Nilden and had more joy as she was able to influence the game more.

CB: Amy James-Turner – 510 – Made a crucial goal-saving block at 0-0 after Reiten ran off the shoulder of Neville to get a shot away. Headed effort in the second half when Spurs were on top.

CB: Luana Buhler – 6/10 – Could’ve scored an equaliser early in the second half if not for a last-ditch clearance off the line. Outmuscled by Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Chelsea were almost in, but Spurs were just about able to deal with the danger.

LB: Amanda Nilden – 5/10 – Had a tough first half dealing with Hamano, who was causing all sorts of problems. Was stretchered off before half-time with what looked like an ankle injury.

CM: Grace Clinton – 6/10 – Lost possession a couple of times in battles with Cuthbert. Two half-chances before the break but couldn’t punish Chelsea with either attempt.

CM: Eveliina Summanen – 5/10 – Some desperate last ditch, but crucial, defending early in the second half to keep Spurs in it. Struggled to get a real hold on midfield and had a quiet night.

CM: Drew Spence – 6/10 – A better grip of the game in midfield in the second half after Chelsea dominated the first. Forced off with an injury late on, however, which came as a blow for Spurs as she was at the heart of everything they did well.

RW: Jess Naz – 6/10 – Caught offside a handful of times in the early exchanges. Took a shot on from distance when a better pass was on. 

ST: Bethany England – 5/10 – Nearly assisted Beever-Jones with a bizarre attempt at a clearance. Fortunate not to be punished. Otherwise, she struggled to really make an impact.

LW: Celin Bizet – 6/10 – Some beautiful footwork to beat both Charles and Cuthbert down the right but slipped as she put the cross in and it was cleared by Bright.

Substitutes

SUB: Charlotte Grant (47′ for Amanda Nilden) – 6/10 – Some vital defending in the second half as Cuthbert drove into the box. Spurs looked more in control when she was on the pitch, particularly in the early stages of the second half. 

SUB: Martha Thomas (65′ for Jess Naz ) – 5/10

SUB: Matilda Vinberg (65′ for Celin Bizet) – 5/10

SUB: Kit Graham (81′ for Drew Spence) – 5/10

Subs not used: Ramona Petzelberger, Kit Graham, Olga Ahtinen, Rosella Ayane, Eleanor Heeps, Wang Shuang

Manager

Robert Vilahamn – 6/10 – His side struggled in the first half but did well not to let the game get away from them. They had some fantastic chances but once again their finishing and final ball let them down on the night.

Aggie Beever-Jones, Catarina Macario, Erin Cuthbert, Niamh Charles, Millie Bright

Chelsea Women during the game against Tottenham / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

GK: Zecira Musovic – 6/10 – Was fortunate a sloppy pass early in the second half wasn’t punished. Reliable when called into action, especially when Spurs were on top in the second half.

RB: Ashley Lawrence – 7/10 – Comfortable in possession and kept things ticking. Dealt well in the first half with Spurs’ threat first half but struggled a bit in the second. Replaced by the experienced Jess Carter with 20 minutes left to play.

CB: Millie Bright – 7/10 – A crucial clearance after Bizet beat boh Charles and Cuthbert to get a cross in during the second half. Dealt well enough with everything Spurs threw at them.

CB: Nathalie Bjorn – 7/10 – Comfortable first half but struggled a bit more against Naz in the early stages of the second. Read the game much better when the Spurs forward went off.

LB: Niamh Charles – 8/10 – Found acres of space in the first half and was heavily involved. Was more on the back foot in the second 45 as Spurs looked more threatening but her experience showed as they kept Spurs at arms length.

RM: Maika Hamano – 8/10 – Missed a huge chance early in the first half as she was picked out by Charles. Couldn’t keep the header down and it missed the target. Made up for it before the break with the first goal of the game and was a constantly involved for Chelsea.

CM: Melanie Leupolz – 7/10 – At the heart of everything Chelsea did, alongside Cuthbert in midfield. Fouled relentlessly but kept going. Won the ball back in dangerous areas and set her side on the attack.

CM: Erin Cuthbert – 7/10 – In complete control first half and was first to everything. Influence dwindled in the first 15 minutes of the second half but grew again when Chelsea regained momentum.

LM: Guro Reiten – 7/10 – Caused Neville a lot of problems down the left early on and got the assist for the opener. Got the assist for Hamano’s goal and was a constant threat before she was substituted late on.

ST: Aggie Beever-Jones – 7/10 – An audacious flick very nearly extended the team’s lead in the second half but it rolled marginally wide of the far post. Had plenty of chances but couldn’t finish them on the night.

ST: Catarina Macario – 7/10 – Dropped deep to pick the ball up and Spurs couldn’t get a grip on her movement, which resulted in the opening goal. Her movement asked plenty of questions of Spurs before she came off.

Substitutes

SUB: Sjoeke Nusken (70′ for Catarina Macario) – 6/10

SUB: Jess Carter (70′ for Ashley Lawrence) – 7/10

SUB: Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (70′ for Maika Hamano) – 7/10

SUB: Lauren James (79′ for Aggie Beever-Jones) – 6/10

SUB: Fran Kirby (79′ for Guro Reiten) – 6/10

Subs not used: Sophie Ingle, Maren Mjelde, Hannah Hampton, Kadeisha Buchanan

Manager

Emma Hayes – 7/10 – Did enough to get her side over the line. Her second-half substitutes made the difference as Spurs were massively on top and looked the likelier to score. 

Player of the match: Maika Hamano (Chelsea)

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