United Women 1 Chelsea 3
Manchester United Women fell to our first WSL defeat of the season on Sunday evening, when Chelsea defeated Marc Skinner's side 3-1 at Leigh Sports Village.
After a tense first 45 minutes, in which Nikita Parris hit an effort wide and Chelsea saw a series of set-pieces repelled by the United defence, the stern backlines were breached in the second period.
Sam Kerr opened the scoring before providing for Lauren James, as the reigning WSL champions raced into a two-goal lead just after the hour mark.
Alessia Russo gave the Reds and the 6186 supporters - a record for United Women at LSV - hope as the match entered the closing stages, finishing after Ella Toone released her in behind.
But despite United's pressure, Erin Cuthbert turned smartly on the edge of the box before firing her effort beyond Mary Earps to seal the three points for the Blues.
Following an impeccably observed minute's silence, with the fixture being the last for the Reds before Remembrance Sunday.
The opening stages were evenly matched, but it was United who had the first opportunity, when Russo broke down the right and brought a save from Ann-Katrin Berger. Parris latched onto the rebound, but the striker put the ball wide of the goal.
After the early pressure, the visitors started to apply pressure on our goal, with Earps forced to confidently gather consecutive corners.
Such was Chelsea's pressure, the Blues saw a penalty shout waved away after Maya Le Tissier dispossessed Guro Reiten inside the United box, as the game began to become more feisty.
Moments later, United were forced to defend again, after James won a dangerous free-kick on the right side of the box. The Reds cleared well, before Earps took the sting out of another attack from the visitors with commanding play inside her six-yard box.
As half-time edged closer, Chelsea pushed hard for an opener, with United's stern defence once again being tested, and standing up to the challenge with a series of important headers and clearances.
Russo, Parris and Toone looked dangerous on the break, but Chelsea's equally firm backline ensured the sides remained level at the interval.
After the restart, the sides continued to cancel one another out, as United and Chelsea showed exactly why they boasted the first and third-best defensive records in the league, before kick-off.
But Earps was beaten for the first time this season on the hour mark, when Kerr drove the ball into the bottom corner to give the visitors the lead.
Moments later, Kerr broke again down the right and tried to find a ball into the middle, but Hannah Blundell recovered well to block the pass before Maria Thorisdottir cleared.
However, Chelsea weren't denied for long and doubled their lead through James, who raced onto Kerr's square ball and fired into the bottom corner.
The visitors searched for a third, with Earps and our defenders producing a series of blocks to keep the Reds in the match, as the crowd at LSV roared us on.
And with 20 minutes left to play, Russo halved the deficit expertly after being unleashed by Toone, who pinched the ball high in the Chelsea half.
Russo's goal turned the tide, and United pushed hard for a leveller with Skinner throwing on strikers Rachel Williams and Martha Thomas as the match entered the closing stages.
Chelsea almost had a third, when Sophie Ingle crossed for Kerr at the far post, but the striker couldn't find the target with her header.
Skinners side threw everything at the visitors with the clock ticking down, but Cuthbert struck the Reds with the sucker punch in injury-time to seal the three points for the Blues.
United XI: Earps; Thorisdottir, Turner, Le Tissier, Blundell (Staniforth 64); Zelem (c), Ladd (Leon 87); Russo (Williams 78), Toone, Galton; Parris (Thomas 78).
Subs not used: Baggaley, Moore, Tounkara, Boe Risa, Clinton.
Goal: Russo 71.
Chelsea XI: Berger; Buchanan, Bright, Eriksson; Charles, Cuthbert, Ingle, Reiten (Kaneyrd 83); James (Carter 90), Kerr, Harder.
Subs not used: Musovic, Nouwen, England, Perisset, Fleming, Abdullina, Orman.
Goals: Kerr 60, James 64, Cuthbert 92.