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Match Report: Chelsea 3-1 Manchester United Women | Conti Cup

It was a night to forget for Manchester United Women’s Team as they visited Chelsea for the semi-finals of the Continental Cup on Wednesday. The Reds lost 3-1 in a game that highlighted the Blues’ experience when it comes to these kinds of matches and how Marc Skinner’s team is still short of having that X-factor to win these competitions.

Despite United being without talisman Ella Toone and key midfielder Hayley Ladd due to suspension, the first 30 minutes were competitive, with both offering quick transitions and both shutting down the opposition when they got to the final ball. It was quite similar to the one United had against Arsenal in the quarter finals, but then Chelsea’s Pernille Harder took ball after a great pass and dribbles past United’s defender Aoife Mannion and goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley in the 26th minute to score the first goal for the Blues.

This is when United started to lose their focus and Chelsea, smelling blood like the seasoned team they are, seized the opportunity, which is how Jessie Fleming was able to score the second goal in the 31st minute of the game–it was madness inside the United box and the Fleming scored through a header. The Red Devils had a quick reaction by having Vilde Bøe Risa link-up with Jackie Groenen, who delivered a breathtaking back-heel assist to the former, who swiftly scored inside the left side of the Chelsea box.

This goal certainly gave the Red Devils some momentum, but Chelsea were not affected by this and after a long string passes, defender Jessica Carter in the 39th minute, which was another big hit for United and a test to their mental fortitude for the second half.

The second half went underway and United tried, but it was more desired than actual strategy and Chelsea were more than willing to soak up the pressure and hit the Red Devils on the break. Skinner tried to shake up things by adding Brazilian winger Ivana Fuso and one of the January signings, Danish striker Signe Bruun, in the 67th minute for Jackie Groenen and Martha Thomas, respectively, and while the former had a positive impact, looking bright on the ball and creating chances for her teammates, Bruun by and large failed to influence the game due to a lack of service.

But the final nail in the coffin for United came in the 77th minute when goalkeeper Baggaley fouled forward Sam Kerr on a one-on-one chance outside the box, resulting in the former getting sent off. A woman down, with striker Alessia Russo coming off for goalkeeper Mary Earps, the Red Devils were throwing crosses to the box without much thought behind it and Chelsea were ready and willing to deal with them.

It was a frustrating evening for Marc Skinner’s team and while this season’s focus was on qualifying for the Champions League for the first time, it can’t be denied that there is a deep element of frustration in this result. United were flying high with seven wins in a row and seven clean sheets, only for Chelsea to squash that, which can have a negative impact on team morale during a month where they still have to face Arsenal next weekend for the league and later on Manchester City twice in the league and the FA Cup.

There is no shame in losing against arguably the best team in the country and competing in large portions of the game, but it is a reminder that United still need to improve on some areas to challenge for trophies and compete against the top teams.

More Stories Alessia Russo Aoife Mannion Ivana Fuso Jackie Groenen marc skinner Martha Thomas Signe Bruun Sophie Baggaley Vilde Bøa Risa