‘It’s a big step’, says Taylor after Manchester City’s defeat of title rivals Chelsea
GARETH TAYLOR hailed Lauren Hemp for helping Manchester City punish Chelsea whilst contending with an ear infection.
Filippa Angeldahl’s angled strike and Hemp’s fierce finish sealed a 2-0 victory halting City’s 11-game winless WSL run against the Blues.
It saw Gareth Taylor’s aces go second above Chelsea before their clash with fourth-placed Arsenal this coming Sunday.
The City gaffer said: “We looked dangerous on the break and I was mulling over getting fresh legs on
“But I think sometimes, when you’re in the moment like that, it’s really difficult.
“The one change we made was more because Lauren has been suffering and she didn’t train on Saturday.
“She is suffering with an ear infection and pushed herself to the limit in this game.”
City’s Sunday afternoon win at the Academy Stadium was watched by Usain Bolt.
The Jamaican sprint king is in town to take part in Soccer Aid as captain of a world XI side.
The 100m world-record holder is said to have asked Hemp for her shirt after the game.
And the fleet-footed winger quipped it was a case of “fast meeting faster” in a humorous tweet with a picture of herself and Bolt holding her club jersey.
City defender Esme Morgan said: “Lauren ground away, scored an amazing goal and she does graft so hard.
“She’s always there fighting, pressing and battling, and I’ve heard Usain Bolt just asked for her shirt and she’s just so impressed.
Morgan added: “Lauren came up to me after the game and said ‘Esme, guess who just asked for my shirt?’
“I was racking my head through the Chelsea team thinking, ‘who has she had a battle with who might have wanted it after?’.
“When I couldn’t think of anyone, she said Usain Bolt. I couldn’t believe it! It must be the pace.
Before the match Man City had drawn six and lost five of their last 11 WSL games against Chelsea with their last win registered in May 2017.
The match was watched by Sarina Wiegman with the England boss due to name her squad before the Lionesses’ games against Brazil and Australia in April.
Emma Hayes’ side got off to a fast start in attack with Sam Kerr and Lauren James jetting into the box within the opening two minutes.
But City took control of the first spell taking advantage of a short clearance with Angeldahl firing home an angled 11th-minute opener.
Hemp made it 2-0 nineteen minutes later with a finely struck effort with the visitors facing pressure in the final third.
Chelsea, missing the presence of Millie Bright who is temporarily sidelined by injury, rang the changes before half-time.
James and Sophie Ingle made way for Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Niamh Charles with Hayes shoring up her defence and midfield.
The second spell saw the Blues attempt to boost their attacking efforts with a Maren Mjelde’s injury-time shot over the bar, among their strongest efforts.
The result saw the title holders fall to their first WSL loss of the season before their Champions League quarters decider with Lyon on Thursday.
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said:”We’ve got to move on as quickly as possible.
“I don’t think people realise how tough it is to come up here with our third away game in seven days, really really tough.
“We’ve still got a game in hand, we need to maximise that. It’s fantastic for the league that the title race is like this.”
Taylor concurred that the title was still Chelsea’s to lose while acknowledge had taken a huge step forward in their battle to win it.
He added: ‘To be in this position now from where we were is top.
“We’ve not done anything yet, we’ve still got some important games to come, six games left, a lot of challenges in front of us but we go into it with high levels of confidence.
“It’s still Chelsea’s title to lose if we look at it that way but it’s a real positive step for us and gives us great confidence going into this next period.”