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Khadija Shaw nets winner as Man City move level with WSL leaders Chelsea

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 16 Feb 2024

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Manchester City blew the Women’s Super League title race wide open after Khadija Shaw netted the winner in a 1-0 victory over Chelsea that took them level on points with the four-time defending champions at the summit.

The Jamaica international extended her Golden Boot-leading tally to 14 goals in 13 appearances, two more than Chelsea’s Lauren James, who was largely quiet in front of a sold-out Kingsmeadow.

Chelsea had what might have been an all-important penalty shout dismissed before the break and it took an outstanding effort by City keeper Khiara Keating to keep out the Blues in a thrilling second-half stoppage-time surge.

The top two sides head into their last eight matches level on 34 points and even on goal difference, with Chelsea’s 41 goals five more than City’s total, allowing them to remain leaders for another week.

It was Keating, who extended her WSL-leading clean sheet tally to seven, who was first called into action when Nathalie Bjorn nodded Erin Cuthbert’s corner in her direction.

Chelsea fell behind after 14 minutes when Jess Park dispossessed Cuthbert inside the hosts’ half and cut across to Shaw, who blasted the opener past Hannah Hampton, moments later coming close to another but dragging her shot wide before another effort was saved by the Blues keeper.

It was the beginning of a dominant spell for the visitors, who tested Hampton again through Laia Aleixandri’s header before Chelsea finally broke back and Guro Reiten was denied at the near post.

Chelsea wanted a penalty when Alex Greenwood broke up January signing Mayra Ramirez’s run at the edge of City’s six-yard box and in replays appeared not to touch the ball, but with no VAR in play referee Abigail Byrne dismissed the shout.

The Blues continued to apply pressure as an outstretched Keating was just able to get her fingertips on the edge of Fran Kirby’s effort across the face of goal following some excellent work by James in the build-up for the Blues’ best chance of the half.

It was a more aggressive Chelsea side who returned after the break, though it was Shaw who had the best early chance, Leila Ouahabi’s cross coming a bit too early as the striker stooped forward to meet it.

Chloe Kelly stung Hampton’s hands with just under 20 minutes remaining, the hosts then coming painfully close when Cuthbert aimed for the top corner, sending Keating into a dive and fans into a premature celebration as the skipper’s effort ultimately sailed wide.

City needed another goal to lift themselves into the top spot, but if anyone was going to change the scoreline it looked to be Chelsea, who dominated from the final 10 minutes through nine minutes of added time, when Keating made a huge stop to deny substitute Jelena Cankovic snatching a late leveller.

It was all Chelsea in the final, thrilling moments – but it was somehow still the visitors who walked away with all the spoils.

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