Chelsea take WSL title into final-day showdown after nervy win

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Chelsea take WSL title into final-day showdown after nervy win

Chelsea will head into the final day of the season on top of the Women’s Super League after Maika Hamano secured a nervy 1-0 win at Tottenham.

A fifth successive title remains in Emma Hayes’ side’s hands – they now sit above Manchester City on goal difference, with the Blues two goals better off.

Hamano’s first-half strike, converted at the back post after strong work by Guro Reiten, was enough to secure a priceless three points.

How Chelsea can win the WSL

  • If Chelsea beat Man Utd on Saturday and maintain their superior goal difference over Man City (they currently have +47 compared to City’s +45) they will win the title.
  • If Chelsea and Man City finish level on points and goal difference, the title will be decided on goals scored – Chelsea have 65 compared to City’s 59.
  • If Chelsea draw with Man Utd, a Man City win at Aston Villa will see them win the title.
  • If Chelsea lose to Man Utd, Man City just have to avoid defeat to Aston Villa to win the title.

Chelsea were far from their best, inviting pressure from Spurs in the second half and wasting the few chances they created after the break – but their hosts were unable to punish them.

The champions now head to Manchester United on Saturday – live on Sky Sports – knowing they will win yet another WSL title if they claim victory at Old Trafford – and Manchester City do not overcome the goal-difference deficit when they visit Aston Villa.

Player ratings

Tottenham: Votikova (6), Neville (6), Turner (6), Buhler (6), Nilden (5), Clinton (6), Summanen (6), Spence (6), Naz (6), Bizet (6), England (5).

Subs: Grant (6), Thomas (6), Vinberg (6), Graham (6).

Chelsea: Musovic (7), Lawrence (7), Bright (7), Bjorn (7), Charles (8), Hamano (8), Cuthbert (8), Leupolz (7), Reiten (8), Beever-Jones (7), Macario (7).

Subs: Carter (6), Nusken (6), Kaneyrd (6), James (6), Kirby (6).

Player of the match: Maika Hamano

How Chelsea held on against rivals to claim vital win

Chelsea...s Maika Hamano in action against Tottenham Hotspur's Drew Spence during the Barclays Women's Super League match at the Gaughan Group Stadium, London. Picture date: Wednesday May 15, 2024.

Image: Maika Hamano holds off Drew Spence

If Chelsea could have handpicked their opponents for a game they simply had to win to maintain their advantage in the title race, the statistics suggest they may well have picked Spurs.

Robert Vilahamn’s side have now lost all nine of their WSL encounters with Chelsea and were coming off a bruising 4-0 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup final on Sunday.

The visitors started the game impressively, swarming down Spurs’ right flank throughout the first half, and they should been awarded a penalty after just eight minutes when Hamano’s shot was blocked by Luana Buhler’s outstretched arm.

Team news

  • Tottenham made three changes, with Votikova, Clinton and Bizet in for Spencer, Thomas and Vinberg.
  • Chelsea also made three alterations, with Lawrence, Leupolz and Macario in for Ingle, Nusken and Perisset.

Hamano was Chelsea’s main threat and should have opened the scoring when she was picked out by Niamh Charles, but planted her diving header over the bar.

Hayes’ side were denied another penalty when Grace Clinton avoided punishment for grabbing Melanie Leupolz’s shirt from a set-piece, but Hamano finally broke the deadlock when she slid in to convert Reiten’s low cross.

There was concern for Spurs before half-time when Amanda Nilden was stretchered from the field after an innocuous collision with Hamano, with Vilahamn revealed she will undergo an X-ray on Thursday.

But the hosts rallied in the second half and should have scored through Ashleigh Neville, who powered over a first-time shot when a corner dropped her way.

Chelsea were unconvincing for much of the second period, with nerves perhaps playing a factor given they were just one goal from surrendering control of the title race to City.

The result could have been more comfortable for Chelsea, who missed several late chances – Fran Kirby’s wasteful effort being the best of the bunch.

But they did enough, with Hayes now having the chance to win a seventh WSL title in her final game as Chelsea manager.

Hayes looking forward to ‘fitting finale’

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes before the Barclays Women's Super League match at the Gaughan Group Stadium, London. Picture date: Wednesday May 15, 2024.

Image: Emma Hayes’s final game as Chelsea manager will be at Old Trafford on Saturday

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes told BBC Sport:

“You have to work hard in every game in this league. I’ve been saying all year, the league has been getting more competitive. It’s a great product.

“Tottenham, on the back of a cup final, put in a great effort, especially in the second half.

“Really happy with the performance, especially in the first half. We just might have to do a bit of shooting practice this week.”

Asked about Hamano’s impact in just her sixth Chelsea game, Hayes said: “I’m not afraid to put young players in. We see players for the future and I’m very happy to see Maika getting in on merit – she’s been outstanding in training.

“She’s been clinical, getting goals in training. It doesn’t matter who you are – you just have to produce those performances.”

Hayes conceded the title after Chelsea’s defeat to Liverpool earlier this month but City’s late defeat to Arsenal reignited their hopes, and she said: “We’ve got the tougher of the two games – we’ve got to go to Old Trafford. A fitting finale for me, with my final game.

“As I said to the players, if someone gives you a second chance in life, make sure you don’t need a third one. We’re in the position we want to be in and we’ll give it everything on Saturday, no matter what.”

Vilahamn: We can compete with big teams

Tottenham Hotspur manager Robert Vilahamn before the Barclays Women's Super League match at the Gaughan Group Stadium, London. Picture date: Wednesday May 15, 2024.

Image: Robert Vilahamn has guided Spurs to a sixth-place finish in the WSL

Tottenham boss Robert Vilahamn told BBC Sport:

“It’s a really good performance. We bounced back from the final and played some really good football.

“You can tell now we can compete against the top teams. Happy for the girls but I want to win these games – it’s not this year, it’s next year.

“We want to keep taking every game we have to develop. We learned a lot today and took confidence.

“We want to score goals and finish on a high. We are playing good football but we want to score more goals.”

What’s next?

Tottenham end the season with another London derby when they host West Ham on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.

Chelsea travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on the final day with the WSL title on the line; kick-off 3pm.

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