Lucia Garcia snatches victory for Manchester United but they miss out on title
Manchester United were once again grateful for substitute Lucia Garcia but their bid for Women’s Super League glory was dashed as Chelsea claimed the crown by beating Reading.
Garcia came off the bench to score a late winner against Manchester City last weekend and ensure the title race went to the last day of the season, where United needed to beat Liverpool and hope Chelsea slipped up.
The first part was accomplished as Garcia’s 72nd-minute strike secured a 1-0 win for United at Prenton Park, but Chelsea preserved the two-point gap between the sides by overcoming the relegated Royals 3-0.
Up until Garcia struck three minutes after being introduced it had been a frustrating afternoon for United, who nevertheless have achieved their highest finish in the WSL in being runners-up to Chelsea.
Any hope of cranking up the pressure on the Blues with an early goal failed to materialise despite United dominating pressure without really putting their hosts under significant pressure.
Indeed, it was Liverpool who came closest to breaking the deadlock early on as Shanice van de Sanden’s cross-shot just crept past a post while at the other end Nikita Parris headed at Rachael Laws.
The Liverpool goalkeeper made a stunning save to tip Parris’ strike onto a post and keep the scores goalless at half-time, by which point Chelsea were already 2-0 ahead.
Goalkeeper Mary Earps had to be alert to keep out Emma Koivisto’s shot from an acute angle, but just as it looked set to be a frustrating afternoon for United, up popped Garcia moments after coming on for Parris.
Garcia beat the offside trap, chipped a Liverpool defender and while the Spaniard seemed to fluff an attempted volley, on the second attempt she drove beyond Laws at her near post to put United ahead.
Liverpool, thrashed at Leigh Sports Village 6-0 when the teams met earlier in the season, were unable to fashion a comeback as United held on to claim three points but ultimately it was Chelsea’s day as they claimed a fourth successive league title.