Magical Mille Bright scored a Wembley wonder goal to confirm Chelsea’s place at the top of the game as the WSL champions defeat FA Cup holders and arch rivals Manchester City in this long awaited return of women’s football.
England star Bright and and an injury time striker from Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert settled a closely contested Women’s Community Shield.
Bright’s 66th minute long range effort – shortly after City midfielder and fellow England international Jill Scott had been sent off – was the highlight of the day and set Chelsea on their way to their eighth trophy for manager Emma Hayes.
These two clubs have shared most of the major women’s silverware in recent seasons and are expected to be expected to be the main title contenders again this season.
Chelsea were awarded last season’s WSL title on a points per game basis despite trailing City by a point when the season was curtailed due to the corona virus.
And what better way to spotlight the ever increasing standards of women’s football; than a Wembley showdown, albeit an empty stadium, broadcast live on BBC1, played ahead of the men’s clash between Arsenal and Liverpool for the first time.
Australian super star striker Sam Kerr could and should have settled the trophy in Chelsea’s favour with five good chances before Bright’s blaster won the day for Chelsea and their highly decorated manager Emma Hayes.
Scott’s red card, for two bookable offences, had a huge impact on the balance of play, but Chelsea were always worthy winners and scored a deserved second in added time when Erin Cuthbert rifled a loose ball into the roof of the City net.
Until then it had looked like being a miserable afternoon for Chelsea and their star striker Sam Kerr, who missed at least five decent chances as she looked to establish herself as the player to watch this season.
The Australia captain, the record all-time goalscorer in America and the the Australian W-League, is starting her first full season in England and was keen to make an impact.
Her woe started as early as the fourth minute when she shot wide with the goal at her mercy.
Underdogs City recovered well as new manager Gareth Taylor tried to reassure his side from the touchline.
That led to a spell of better possession for the FA Cup holders with Lauren Hemp impressing every time she got on the ball.
But Chelsea were ever dangerous on the break and Kerr almost had a second opportunity after more good work in midfield from Ji So-yun.
Chelsea’s Fran Kirby, making her first appearance since last November, seemed to have lost none of her flair and ability in the lay-off as her hard work on the comeback trail was duly rewarded.
City’s best chance to take the lead came after 23 minutes when a stunning Georgia Stanway half volley from distance produced an excellent save from Ann-Katrin Berger.
Scott’s frustration, however, got the better of her when she picked up her first booked for dissent in a row with referee Rebecca Welch’s decision to award Chelsea a free-kick on the edge of the area.
That dead ball, taken by Ji, resulted in another great chance for Kerr who reacted first to the rebound but headed wide with the goal at her mercy.
Kerr will get better with more games under her belt but looked rusty and low on confidence again when sent clear and screwed a tricky right foot shot wide.
City lost Hemp to a hamstring injury shortly before they had a Chloe Kelly had a great effort ruled out for offside.
Kelly would later strike a neat shot against a post after another Stanway effort had been parried away by the Chelsea keeper.
Chelsea finished the first half strongly and although both teams naturally lacked match sharpness,
Kerr was back in the action at the start of the second half when she missed another excellent opportunity. This time Kirby sent the Aussie star into a goalscoring position, but her shot went wide much to the amazement of the Chelsea striker and her team-mates.
Stanway squandered another good chance for City before Kerr produced yet another wayward finish when she ran at City keeper Ellie Roebuck and opened her body to try and finish like Thierry Henry but pushed a right foot shot well wide.
The chance came after referee Welch had allowed Chelsea advantage despite seeing a foul by Scott on Ji. The official then took the opportunity to review the incident and sent Scott off after the wave of a second yellow card.
Bright’s golden goal followed four minutes later after some patient Chelsea build-up play.
City looked well beaten by two minutes into time added on when Maren Mjelde’s low effort was only half-cleared and Cuthbert latched on to the loose ball to score.