WSL and Continental Cup final: talking points from the weekend’s action | Women’s football

Arsenal play to masterful Little’s tune

Given that Kim Little is 32 years old, and 17 months on from international retirement, you could be forgiven for thinking her career is easing to its end. Technically, it probably is reaching its latter stages. However, a masterful controlling performance in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat of Chelsea in the Continental Cup final demonstrated her continuing quality and how big a hole she will leave at the club when she goes. Emma Hayes said Little “ran the show” against her Chelsea side, and she wasn’t wrong. Little was the conductor of an aggressive and passionate Arsenal orchestra. “When you thought she couldn’t get better, she puts on that performance,” said her manager, Jonas Eidevall. “I told Kim straight after the game: ‘I wasn’t sure if it was possible [but] this is the best you’ve been since I’ve been the coach.’ She was phenomenal in the game, how she connects the team, the duels, the work rate, the decision-making on the ball. She played close to a perfect match.” SW

United’s quality overpowers Leicester

Leicester couldn’t compete with Manchester United’s quality as Alessia Russo bagged a hat-trick in a 5-1 win that extended United’s WSL lead to three points. An unsettled start by United opened up a couple of great opportunities for Hannah Cain – who lacked the clinical edge to punish the hosts. In the second half Marc Skinner’s side worked in numbers to plough through the Leicester midfield, cleverly using the width. Leicester’s WSL debutant Remy Siemsen hit a loopy strike past Mary Earps for 2-1 and gave her side a glimmer of hope. But five minutes later Russo completed her hat-trick before an in-form Leah Galton and Lucía García put the game well beyond reach. Leicester’s defence was far from timid but was overwhelmed by opponents who swarmed their goal with finesse and strength. RO

See also  World Cup opening ceremony: six things we learned in Qatar | World Cup 2022

Ruthless Dali helps to keepVilla rolling

The battle between Everton and Aston Villa, who are fighting for fifth place, was always going to be determined by fine details. With few clear chances, it was all about which team would make the most of theirs or force a mistake. Kenza Dali seized an early opening with style to put a dent in Everton’s confidence with a goal inside five minutes. In the second half Everton’s Megan Finnigan turned the ball into her own net after Maz Pacheco’s low shot flew into her path. Jess Park and Rikke Sevecke came agonisingly close to scoring for Everton but nothing went their way. Villa are unbeaten in five WSL games and have closed the gap on fourth-placed Arsenal, who have two games in hand. RO

Rachel Daly and Kenza Dali point to the sky after Dali struck early in the victory over Everton.
Rachel Daly and Kenza Dali point to the sky after Dali struck early in the victory over Everton. Photograph: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC/Getty Images

Rowe gives Reading breathing room

Never count Reading out. That was the message from their vital win over West Ham that lifted them up the table. A second half full of energy and character was epitomised by the performance of the tireless Rachel Rowe in the middle of the park. The Wales international is in her eighth season at the club and is the beating heart of this Royals side. It seemed fitting that Rowe produced a trademark winning strike in the 85th minute. It came at a nervy moment for the hosts – West Ham had equalised less than 10 minutes earlier and were looking threatening – but the midfielder found herself on the edge of the box to unleash a thunderbolt past Mackenzie Arnold. A dramatic ending threatened when the visitors hit the bar in injury time, but jubilation followed from Kelly Chambers and her players as they held on to win 2-1. The fitting celebration showed just how important this victory was in their fight for survival. SD

skip past newsletter promotion

Shaw opens up lead in Golden Boot race

It is hard to name a more in-form striker than Manchester City’s Bunny Shaw. The battle for the WSL Golden Boot has gone back and forth between Shaw and Rachel Daly all season but Shaw opened a lead on Sunday with a clinical hat-trick against Tottenham. With her side trailing, the forward took it upon herself to turn things around. It was a performance that showed Shaw at her instinctive best as she created 11 opportunities. She was alert to head home her first just before the break before converting a clinical penalty immediately after half-time. Her third was a driven reactive effort, ensuring City’s impressive run remained on track. With Chelsea and Arsenal in cup action, they rose to second, marking Gareth Taylor’s 100th game in charge in style. SD

Source link