The battle of last season’s top two ended with a stalemate as Chelsea and Manchester City played out a goalless draw in the opening game of the FA Women’s Super League at Kingsmeadow.
In front of 2,501 fans, Nikita Parris provided the most threat for the visitors, who had chances in both halves.
However in the end, it was the defenders who finished on top, with neither team able to break the deadlock.
The first half was a physical affair with both sides keen to start the season with a victory, meaning they had little space to work in. Manchester City started the better, with Georgia Stanway and Parris offering a threat on the break. Both sides pressed with intent, and neither defence had time on the ball to pick an incisive pass or have sustained possession.
Chelsea grew into the game with support from their fans, and ended the half with a flurry of chances, drawing a save from Karen Bardsley to deny Maren Mjelde, before Karen Carney fired over from close range.
Manchester City began the second half with more attacking impetus following the arrival of Nadia Nadim from the bench. Stanway and Steph Houghton both saw their efforts fly just over the bar, but neither side could find the crucial composure at the final moment, perhaps a symptom of some early season rustiness.
Moment of the match
Defender Jess Carter’s crucial double block in the 75thminute prevented Parris breaking the deadlock from a corner and marked the end of any clear chances for the visitors in a game of few opportunities.
What they said:
Chelsea captain Karen Carney: “We did really well but I think there is more to come from us, we have got a fantastic squad, the subs that came on took us to another level and I am excited for us to keep pushing and pushing.
“As players you never know where you are first game and especially after an international break where we have probably had two days to prepare for the game it’s tough.
“It’s the same for both teams, it’s a leveller but I’m disappointed because I think we had more than enough chances, they are tough, they kept a clean sheet and they’ll be happy with that. I think we had the better chances and I think we should have nicked it.”
Manchester City manager Nick Cushing: “Both teams and players were exceptional and the intensity they played coming off that was a credit to both sets of professional players.
“We don’t know who is going to win it I thought the game was a very, very good level, the only disappointment was maybe it would be a higher level later in the season.
“You have to play everybody and we are pleased we didn’t lose the game because we want to get back to being a winning team.”
Chelsea have a trio of away games coming up next as they head to Bosnia Herzegovina for a Champions League clash with SFK 2000 before trips to Crystal Palace in the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup and Bristol City in the Super League.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said: “It was the first game of the season. You need time together as a group, we are playing a new system we have got new players, you can’t just snap your fingers and it happens.”
Meanwhile City face a trip to Madrid to take on Atletico on Thursday before they travel to Bristol City in the Continental Cup and then Everton in the Super League.
Cushing added: “It will be a difficult game (against Atletico), we have to make sure we bring the tie home.
“The strategy of us has always been to make sure we bring the game home but if we feel we can take the game we will try and finish it there, but it is going to be a very difficult game so we will prepare for Atletico Madrid and make sure we concentrate on recovery.”
Manchester City 0
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Hedvig Lindahl, Jess Carter, Millie Bright, Maren Mjelde, Jonna Andersson, Sophie Ingle, Karen Carney, Magdalena Eriksson, Ji So-Yun, Bethany England, Ramona Bachmann
Substitutes: Fran Kirby for Ingle 68, Drew Spence on for England 68, Erin Cuthbert on for Ji 80,
Subs not used: Carly Telford, Maria Thorisdottir, Hannah Blundell, Adelina Engman
Yellow cards: Eriksson 53
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Karen Bardsley, Gemma Bonner, Steph Houghton, Jen Beattie, Abbie McManus, Keira Walsh, Jill Scott, Melissa Lawley, Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp, Nikita Parris
Substitutes: Nadia Nadim for Hemp 45, Janine Beckie on for Lawley 74, Tessa Wullaert on for Scott 90+2
Subs not used: Ellie Roebuck, Caroline Weir, Mie Jans, Claire Emslie
Yellow cards: Beattie 4, Bonner 67
Referee: Rebecca Welch