Manchester United Women 0 Chelsea Women 1
Manchester United Women missed out on a place in the Continental League Cup final after slipping to a slender semi-final defeat to Chelsea.
United started the game strongly under the lights at Leigh Sports Village, controlling the majority of the possession and fashioning the first chance of the game in the seventh minute when Jackie Groenen’s surging run found Lauren James, who dragged her attempt wide of the post from outside the 18-yard-box.
The half-hour point was marked by two cautions in two minutes. The first went to Chelsea midfielder Sophie Ingle and United’s McManus followed her into the referee’s book after a late challenge on Bethany England. The Reds' no.5 injured herself in the process and when back on her feet she was greeted by the sight of the yellow card.
The subsequent free-kick almost provided Chelsea with the lead after Guro Reiten's header called Mary Earps into action and our goalkeeper responded with a fantastic diving save to keep the scoreline level. The teams were in stalemate at half-time but United were ahead on bookings after James lunged in just before the break.
There were shouts for a penalty from the United fans as we passed the hour mark. Jess Sigsworth’s powerful run into the opposition area was halted by what looked like a push but the referee waved play on, allowing Chelsea to counter attack. Thankfully the Blues were unable to prosper then but they would soon strike the first blow, despite United dominating the second half.
Another counter attack, led by Guro Reiten, caught out the Reds who didn’t deal with the cross into the box and Mjelde cleverly directed her shot into the net.
There was almost an instant response from United as the ball fell to Groenen in midfield and she fed the pass through to James; however, the striker couldn’t keep her shot down from close range. Casey Stoney turned to the bench in a straight swap, with Jane Ross replacing Lizzie Arnot.
The Blues started to control the game in the final few minutes and with United starting to make mistakes in defensive areas, Earps was again called into action when a Reiten effort almost doubled the lead.
Mjelde's goal eventually proved enough for Chelsea, leaving the Reds to rue a semi-final defeat for the second season in a row.
United: Earps, Smith, M.Turner, McManus (Harris 75), A. Turner, Ladd, Zelem, Groenen, Sigsworth, Arnot (Ross 70), James.
Subs not used: Mikalsen, Okvist, May.
Booked: McManus, James.
Chelsea: Telford, Blundell, Bright, Ingle, England, Reiten, Eriksson, Mjelde, Cuthbert, Spence (Murphy 90), Anderson.
Subs not used: Berger, Carter, Cooper, Napier.
Booked: Ingle, Eriksson.
Goal: Mjelde 72.