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Chelsea stay in control of WSL title race with tense win over Birmingham

Chelsea’s Pernille Harder, right, celebrates scoring from the penalty spot in the 1-0 win at Birmingham (Mike Egerton/PA)
Chelsea’s Pernille Harder, right, celebrates scoring from the penalty spot in the 1-0 win at Birmingham (Mike Egerton/PA)

Chelsea kept the destiny of the Women’s Super League title in their own hands with a hard-fought 1-0 win at bottom-placed Birmingham.

Pernille Harder stroked home a penalty in the 71st minute after Lisa Robertson had handled in the Birmingham box.

Emma Hayes’ side will clinch a third successive WSL crown if they beat Manchester United at home next Sunday.

Chelsea were made to sweat at a rain-swept St Andrew’s after Sam Kerr had struck the crossbar and Guro Reiten fired just wide.

Hayes told Sky Sports: “I thought we were nervy in the first half and we rushed things because the goal didn’t come.

“But job done. Pernille Harder has composure in the biggest moments and I’m delighted. We’ve done enough to get over the line.”

Arsenal hammered Aston Villa 7-0 to stay in touch with Chelsea.

Arsenal v Aston Villa – Barclays FA Women’s Super League – LV Bet Stadium Meadow Park
Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, right, celebrates with team-mate Noelle Maritz after scoring her second goal in the 7-0 thrashing of Aston Villa (Steve Paston/PA)

The Gunners are four points behind and are at home to north London neighbours Tottenham on Wednesday before concluding their campaign at West Ham next Sunday.

Arsenal led by two at half-time, both courtesy of Vivianne Miedema, before putting Villa to the sword in the second half.

Rachel Corsie put the ball into her own net in the 52nd minute after Miedema’s shot had hit the crossbar and there were further goals from Beth Mead, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Stina Blackstenius before Nikita Parris converted a last-minute penalty.

Manchester United put the pressure back on Manchester City in the race for Champions League qualification with a 3-0 victory over West Ham.

City moved back ahead of their local rivals by beating Brighton 7-2 on Saturday and still have things in their own hands with games against Birmingham and Reading to come.

United took the lead in the 12th minute at Leigh Sports Village when Leah Galton’s cross was headed in by Martha Thomas, and their advantage was doubled eight minutes later through an own goal from Grace Fisk.

Galton sealed the points early in the second half when she got on the end of a cross from Alessia Russo.

Fifth-placed Tottenham drew 2-2 at Everton in a game of late drama.

Spurs were ahead after five minutes when Rachel Williams and Eveliina Summanen combined to set up Asmita Ale’s first goal for the club.

Danielle Turner headed an Everton equaliser six minutes from time before Josie Green instantly converted Jessica Naz’s cross from close range.

But Megan Finnigan struck in the first minute of stoppage time to hand Everton a point.

Struggling Leicester secured a valuable goalless draw with Reading.

The Foxes had lost their previous six games, conceding an average of more than five goals on each occasion.

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