Emma Hayes bows out with another WSL title as Chelsea crush Manchester United



Posted Sunday, May 19, 2024 by PA

Emma Hayes bows out with another WSL title as Chelsea crush Manchester United

Emma Hayes signed off as Chelsea boss in style as her side claimed a fifth successive Women’s Super League title with a 6-0 thrashing of Manchester United at Old Trafford, finishing ahead of Manchester City on goal difference.

Having started the final day of a thrilling title race with the same amount of points as City and a goal difference superior by two, Chelsea tore into their task against a United side offering little in the way of resistance, storming into a 4-0 first-half lead with two goals early on and two just before the interval.

Mayra Ramirez was the star, netting a brace and setting up finishes by Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Sjoeke Nusken.

Emma Hayes bows out with another WSL title as Chelsea crush Manchester United
Chelsea’s Mayra Ramirez (third right) celebrates (Martin Rickett/PA)

Melanie Leupolz added a fifth for the visitors just after the break and Nusken’s fellow substitute Fran Kirby, making her final appearance for the west London club, subsequently completed the rout – while City won 2-1 at Aston Villa – as they made it a glorious farewell for their manager ahead of her departing to take charge of the United States’ women’s team.

It is the seventh WSL title in total and 14th major piece of silverware of Hayes’ remarkable 12-year tenure at Chelsea, which earlier this month there looked every chance would conclude with a trophyless season.

That was after losses in the League Cup final to Arsenal and semi-finals of the FA Cup to United and Champions League to Barcelona was followed by a 4-3 league defeat at Liverpool.

Emma Hayes bows out with another WSL title as Chelsea crush Manchester United
There was plenty for Hayes to smile about at Old Trafford (Martin Rickett/PA)

But Hayes’ side then responded to City going down 2-1 at home against Arsenal by thumping Bristol City 8-0 and then won 1-0 at Tottenham to move into top spot before cementing it with this stunning display to extend their record stretch as champions.

For Marc Skinner’s United, it was a sobering afternoon six days on from winning the FA Cup, which sees them end up fifth in the WSL table, a year after finishing as runners-up.

Hayes made three changes to her starting line-up, with Ramirez among those coming into the team having recovered from injury, and the Colombian made an instant impact, getting on the end of Guro Reiten’s cross to head Chelsea in front in just the second minute.

Six minutes later the lead was doubled with Ramirez turning provider, combining with another player brought into the XI as her pass fed Rytting Kaneryd, who slotted past Mary Earps.

Chelsea’s dream start almost got even better soon after when Rytting Kaneryd sent a delivery towards Reiten at the back post, with Jayde Riviere making the block, before United came within inches of pulling a goal back, Maya Le Tissier heading against the bar.

Emma Hayes bows out with another WSL title as Chelsea crush Manchester United
Chelsea’s Fran Kirby (centre) scored the sixth (Martin Rickett/PA)

After the injured Catarina Macario was replaced by Nusken, Ramirez tangled with Millie Turner and went down in the box, with Chelsea fans’ crying in vain for a penalty.

They were soon cheering again, though, as Ramirez got past Turner in the 44th minute to provide a cut-back that Nusken tapped in from close range.

And Ramirez then added her second three minutes on from that, United appearing helpless in their attempts to stop her as she burst past two red shirts and fired in to prompt wild celebrations from Hayes.

Only two minutes into the second half, there was more pain for United as Chelsea once again took advantage of slack defending, with Reiten, after the ball had bounced off her against the post, delivering a cross that Leupolz steered in with an outstretched boot.

There was then a special moment for the long-serving Kirby, whose own end-of-season departure was announced earlier this month, as she came off the bench in the 72nd minute and got on the scoresheet in the 85th, finishing having exchanged passes with fellow substitute Sophie Ingle.

It only added to the sense of emotion of the occasion as the final whistle brought Hayes’ tenure to an end with her team champions once again.

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