Bethany England insisted she never doubted Chelsea Women could beat Manchester City on Sunday – despite falling behind against one of their main rivals for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League title.
The Blues have not beaten City in the league since 2014 and despite dominating Sunday’s game at Kingsmeadow, it looked like a familiar story would unfold as the visitors took the lead through Caroline Weir with just half an hour to play.
But the Blues responded in style with first England scoring – her 10th of the season – and then defender Maren Mjelde diverting the Chelsea striker’s shot in to the back of the net in the space of two exhilarating second-half minutes.The final whistle soon followed, and while the relief among the players and the 3,498 fans inside Kingsmeadow was evident, the England international never doubted the team could get the victory.She said: ‘That was tough, we know that City are one of the toughest teams, if not the toughest team we’ve faced. We have always struggled against City and I don’t think we have won against them in the league often so that meant so much for the girls.
‘We gave it everything, although we went 1-0 down, we knew we had momentum. We had good momentum in the first half and we built on it even though the first goal went in, it didn’t faze us, we kept pushing and pushing and I’m so happy that second goal bounced off Maren.
‘That just proved the resilience and togetherness of our team, this is the best team I possibly could wish to be a part of and I’m so proud of every single one of the girls from the starting XI to the bench players, the staff, the background staff and everyone who gets us ready for the game – that three points is for everyone.
‘We were 1-0 down and we needed to get that equaliser, the minute you get an equaliser it gives you that belief to keep pushing and pushing and hopefully I feel like my goal did that.’
Chelsea had dropped to third in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League prior to kick off after last weekend’s game with Everton was postponed meaning three points against second-placed City was crucial.
Victory means the Blues are two points adrift of leaders Arsenal and a point clear of City with a game in hand on both, but while it remains in our hands at this early stage in the season, England knows there will be many twists and turns to come before the champions are crowned.
‘It’s still early, we’re not even at Christmas yet, we have still got to play City and Arsenal away so you can’t call it yet,’ she added.
‘This league is so tight at the top and every single point is important. You can’t slip up in this league so to take three points off City, especially after being 1-0 down, is important.
‘This time last year we wouldn’t have won these games, we would have crumbled and that shows a different mentality from the girls to see it out and get the win.
‘We had some great chances, Maren hit the woodwork, Ji [So-Yun] has some incredible shots but it’s nice to see that we’re creating chances against such a tough opposition.’
The Blues host Reading Women in the Continental Tyres Cup tomorrow, with a 7pm kick-off at Kingsmeadow. Tickets are still available and priced at just £3 for adults and £1 for juniors (under-16) and seniors (over 65).