United needed a favour from Reading in their game against Man City, as a loss for the Citizens and a win for United against Chelsea would have handed Marc Skinner’s side a spot inside the top three.
But it wasn’t to be, as Reading suffered a 4-0 loss at the hands of City, meaning that the club from the blue side of the city finished five points ahead of United. Chelsea’s win tied into what was a memorable title race, as Arsenal missed out on silverware.
Skinner’s side remained unchanged once again, as they went in with the same XI as they had in games against West Ham and Aston Villa. Hayley Ladd and Maria Thorisdottir started as the centre-backs, flanked by Ona Batlle and Hannah Blundell.
Jackie Groenen and Katie Zelem started once again in midfield, behind the front four of Ella Toone, Leah Galton, Alessia Russo and Martha Thomas.
Chelsea began the game being one point ahead of Arsenal. United started brightly as Thomas headed in from Zelem’s corner in the 13th minute. It was a fitting end of the season for Zelem, whose corners caused menace to the opposition throughout the campaign.
United’s lead didn’t last too long as five minutes later, as Erin Cuthbert found herself in some space inside the box and finished coolly to draw the Blues level. But United didn’t back down and hit back to take the lead in the 25th minute, as Toone volleyed home from Galton’s impressive cross to the deep.
Emma Hayes made a couple of changes at half-time, as Bethany England and Ji So-yun came on. And Chelsea equalised within a minute of the second half starting, as substitute England’s initial shot was not cleared by United and Sam Kerr found the back of the net.
It took only five minutes for Chelsea to flip the tie on its head. Guro Reiten combined brilliantly with Pernille Harder, allowing the Norwegian to make it 3-2.
United did have a chance to make it 3-3 in the 60th minute but Groenen’s cross hit the post after having beaten Chelsea stopper Ann-Katrin Berger. As United kept trying to equalise, they left space behind them to be exposed.
Kerr indeed made it 4-2 and got her 30th goal of the season, as she came up with a superb volley to beat Mary Earps from some distance out. This put the final nail in the coffin for United, as it confirmed Chelsea’s title and United’s fourth-placed finish.
United have now finished fourth in the WSL for two consecutive seasons but this season has witnessed a drop in points, as they finished with 42 points - five less than their tally from the 2020/21 campaign.