Unstoppable Chelsea beat Reading to clinch fourth straight WSL title ahead of Man Utd

Chelsea celebrate after being crowned WSL champions. Credit: Alamy
Chelsea celebrate after being crowned WSL champions. Credit: Alamy

Chelsea celebrated their fourth successive Women’s Super League title after beating Reading 3-0 at Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Having seen off Manchester United in the FA Cup final earlier this month, Chelsea wrapped up the double in style as they breezed past relegated Reading courtesy of Guro Reiten and a Sam Kerr double.

The Blues’ recent dominance shone through as their hosts failed to deal with the attacking talent of Emma Hayes’ side, who finished the 2022-23 season victorious and on a seven-game league winning run.

Chelsea knocked on the door early and were unlucky to not take the lead through Kerr’s missed opportunity before a fantastic save by goalkeeper Grace Moloney, who tipped Erin Cuthbert’s effort onto the crossbar.

But the breakthrough came in the 18th minute through Kerr, who did not have to be asked twice when she picked up a neat pocket of space inside the box before heading Reiten’s cross past Moloney to make it 1-0.

Reiten turned scorer after 42 minutes when she pounced on a loose ball in the Reading backline to go one-on-one with Moloney before holding her nerve to produce a composed finish and put Chelsea 2-0 up.

The shackles were off for Chelsea, who played the start of the second half with the comfort of a two-goal lead as they enjoyed long periods of possession which further piled the misery on Reading’s forgettable season.

And the Champions began to ramp up the pressure through Kerr, Reiten and Lauren James, who drove at the Reading defence in a persistent hunt to grab another but were left disappointed through their opponent’s stubborn low block to keep the score at 2-0.

But Kerr’s efforts paid off in the 88th minute. The Australia captain was slipped through on goal and her first effort came back off the post but she was first to react to claim a simple tap-in and round off a well-deserved Chelsea victory.

Manchester United’s Lucia Garcia celebrates after scoring in the Barclays Women's Super League match against Liverpool. Credit: Alamy
Manchester United’s Lucia Garcia celebrates after scoring in the Barclays Women's Super League match against Liverpool. Credit: Alamy

United were once again grateful for substitute Lucia Garcia but their title bid fell just short despite beating Liverpool.

Garcia came off the bench to score a late winner against Manchester City last weekend and ensure the title race went to the last day of the season.

The first part was accomplished as Garcia’s 72nd-minute strike secured a 1-0 win for United at Prenton Park, but Chelsea preserved the two-point gap between the sides by overcoming the relegated Royals 3-0.

Up until Garcia struck three minutes after being introduced it had been a frustrating afternoon for United, who nevertheless have achieved their highest finish in the WSL in being runners-up to Chelsea.

Any hope of cranking up the pressure on the Blues with an early goal failed to materialise despite United dominating pressure without really putting their hosts under significant pressure.

Indeed, it was Liverpool who came closest to breaking the deadlock early on as Shanice van de Sanden’s cross-shot just crept past a post while at the other end Nikita Parris headed at Rachael Laws.

The Liverpool goalkeeper made a stunning save to tip Parris’ strike onto a post and keep the scores goalless at half-time, by which point Chelsea were already 2-0 ahead.

Goalkeeper Mary Earps had to be alert to keep out Emma Koivisto’s shot from an acute angle, but just as it looked set to be a frustrating afternoon for United, up popped Garcia moments after coming on for Parris.

Garcia beat the offside trap, chipped a Liverpool defender and while the Spaniard seemed to fluff an attempted volley, on the second attempt she drove beyond Laws at her near post to put United ahead.

Liverpool, thrashed at Leigh Sports Village 6-0 when the teams met earlier in the season, were unable to fashion a comeback as United held on to claim three points but ultimately it was Chelsea’s day.

Read more: Emma Hayes is setting standards on the Chelsea touchline and in the media

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