Chelsea Women lost in the WSL for the first time since the opening day of the season with the damage done before half-time.

Goals from Filippa Angeldahl and Lauren Hemp in the opening half-hour condemned us to a rare defeat, with our midweek exploits in Lyon taking their toll against one of our title rivals. We slip to third in the table, a point behind both Manchester clubs having played a game fewer.

We struggled to fashion chances against a resolute City side, who stopped us from scoring in a game for the first time since February 2022. Their goals were outstanding angled finishes, genuine moments of quality in a contest otherwise lacking them. There was an extra blow for the Blues in the second half as Erin Cuthbert limped off in some pain, the last thing Emma Hayes needed with so many of her squad already unavailable.

We will need to pick ourselves quickly as we host Lyon at Stamford Bridge on Thursday in the second leg of our Champions League quarter-final, ahead 1-0 from the first game. You can be there!

The selection

Emma Hayes made a couple changes to her team, both in defence. Millie Bright was absent through the injury she sustained in Lyon. Magda Eriksson was her natural replacement, and took the armband.

Maren Mjelde came in at right-back for Eve Perisset, otherwise it was as you were for the side that had performed so admirably in France four days ago.

City start stronger

Jess Carter intervened impressively to thwart Chloe Kelly as our hosts began the better on a grey day in Manchester.

But we soon got into our stride, and Kerr did well to get a shot off from a narrowing angle after Erin Cuthbert had released her. On the quarter-hour, a long-range Sophie Ingle strike forced a good low save from Ellie Roebuck, a little deflection making it trickier for the City stopper.

The Blues had been committed to playing out from the back, and it cost us midway through the first half. Ann-Katrin Berger’s kick was intercepted, and the ball was worked to Angeldahl, who had time and space to plant a shot into the top corner from 16 yards out. With six shots and six corners already to their name, we couldn’t argue it was a deserved lead.

Double trouble

It was one City doubled on the half-hour. A Kelly cross was only half-cleared and the loose ball fell to Hemp, who hammered an unstoppable half-volley into the top corner.

Hayes didn’t like what she was seeing and made a double substitution with 35 minutes played. Johanna Rytting Kaneryd came on for Lauren James, and Niamh Charles replaced Sophie Ingle. Reiten moved into a central role behind Kerr, with Charles on the left and Rytting Kaneryd the right. Cuthbert dropped deeper.

We looked more solid until the interval but didn’t offer much of an attacking threat, so it was all to do in the second half. For the first time in 37 WSL games, we trailed by two midway through a game.

Trying to get back in it

We re-emerged with renewed energy and urgency, a couple of loose balls in the box not quite falling in our favour within 60 seconds of the restart.

City were proving obdurate opponents, though, getting players behind the ball knowing full well they had a healthy cushion.

Midway through the second half, Jelena Cankovic came on for Mjelde, with Charles dropping into defence.

On 73 minutes, for the first time in quite a while, Roebuck was called into action. A deep free-kick reached Kerr close to the byline and she tried to catch the keeper out at her near post, but Roebuck was equal to it, palming behind for a corner which City dealt with.

There were worrying signs with 10 minutes remaining when Cuthbert hobbled off after colliding with her own player on the halfway line. The Scot, who only returned from injury against Lyon, looked in some discomfort. On came Jessie Fleming.

City’s final chance fell Bunny Shaw's way, the league's top goalscorer heading over. And then our best opportunity all game landed at the feet of an unmarked Melanie Leupolz in stoppage time - Reiten the creator - but the German volleyed well over from 10 yards out. It rather summed up our day.

What’s next?

After we host Lyon on Thursday, it’s Aston Villa away in the WSL on Sunday prior to the international break.

Man City (4-3-3): Roebuck; Morgan, Houghton, Greenwood, Aleixandri; Angeldahl, Hasegawa, Coombs; Kelly, Shaw, Hemp (Blakstad 78)
Unused subs Casparij, Stokes, Fowler, Castellanos, Raso, Ouahabi, MacIver, Kennedy
Scorers Angeldahl 21, Hemp 30
Booked Hemp 73, Kelly 84

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Berger; Mjelde (Cankovic 67), Buchanan, Eriksson (c), Carter; Leupolz, Ingle (Charles 36); James (Rytting Kaneryd 36), Cuthbert (Fleming 79), Reiten; Kerr
Unused subs Musovic, Abdullina, Perisset

Referee Paul Howard