A stunning long-range goal from England defender Millie Bright and a late finish by substitute Erin Cuthbert gave Chelsea victory over Manchester City in the first Women’s Community Shield at Wembley Stadium.
Bright’s superb strike from 25 yards flew into the top-right corner after City’s Jill Scott had been sent off for two bookable offences.
Scotland midfielder Cuthbert made it 2-0 in stoppage time to seal the win.
Chelsea’s Sam Kerr, starting ahead of Bethany England up front, missed some big chances before Bright opened the scoring for the Women’s Super League champions.
FA Cup holders Manchester City came close in the first half when Chloe Kelly struck the outside of the left post after Georgia Stanway had forced a smart save from goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger with a powerful effort.
But Chelsea could easily have won by more had Kerr put away one of her clear-cut opportunities.
The Australia forward, who joined Emma Hayes’ side in November, hit the side-netting after three minutes when she was clean through and then poked wide from a few yards out in the second half.
It was the first women’s contest held since 2008 and Chelsea, who were awarded the 2019-20 WSL title ahead of City, pick up where they left off after lifting the Continental Cup in February.
Saturday’s match at Wembley was played behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Chelsea prove they are the WSL’s best
Manchester City were top of the table, a point ahead of Chelsea, when the WSL season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, but they were unable to get their revenge at Wembley on Saturday.
Chelsea were the better side and should have been 1-0 up within three minutes when Kerr’s strike flew into the side-netting.
City responded and the young English duo of Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp caused problems on both wings.
But Chelsea broke with pace on the counter-attack – England international Fran Kirby, making a first appearance since November 2019, set up numerous chances for Kerr with some penetrating runs down the right.
Stanway’s half-volley forced a smart save from Berger midway through the first half and another of her strikes fell kindly for Kelly, who could only smash the rebound against a post.
But Hayes’ side showed their attacking prowess by creating chance after chance – none of which Kerr could convert – before Bright became the unlikely provider of the breakthrough.
Cuthbert fired into the roof of the net deep into stoppage time but Bright’s goal had forced 10-player City to open up as they chased an equaliser.
It will surely come as a bitter blow for Gareth Taylor, who was taking charge of his first Manchester City match and is aiming to snatch the title from Chelsea’s hands in the most highly anticipated WSL season to date.
Kelly shines while Kerr struggles
All eyes were on some of the best attacking talent in England.
Kelly was making her first Manchester City appearance after joining from Everton, for whom she top scored last season.
She got the nod ahead of proven goalscorer Ellen White and took her chance, exciting and threatening every time she got on the ball.
Taylor’s faith in City’s youth could have paid off on another day as Hemp, Stanway and teenager Esme Morgan were all impressive at Wembley.
In contrast, Hayes’ decision to start Kerr over WSL Player of the Year England did not come off and the Australian had a day to forget.
Kerr was eventually substituted but her embrace with Bright after the centre-back finally put the ball in the back of the net was one full of relief.
England had opportunities to score too when she came on in the second half but her chances of earning selection – perhaps ahead of Kerr – were given more of a boost when she was off the pitch than on it.
‘We were a little rusty in front of goal’ – what they said
Chelsea defender Millie Bright, speaking to BBC One: “I scored at City away and that was pretty decent but scoring at Wembley is unbelievable. What a start because we are going for a lot of trophies this year.
“We were always confident. Both teams have new players but we focus on ourselves. It was tense. It was never in doubt that we would score but we were a little rusty in front of goal.”
Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert: “I had a tough pre-season and I wasn’t sure I would make the game. The medical staff got me back fit so the goal is for them. It is a shame there are no fans to run to and celebrate.
“We want to retain our title. We have recruited well. It is the small details. If everyone goes 1% up we can compete again.”