Emma Hayes' dominant Chelsea team broke a long-standing Premier League record after they scored for a 56th successive Women's Super League game.

Late goals from Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby saw reigning Super League champions Chelsea defeat Leicester City 2-0 on Sunday.

The victory took Chelsea into second place, but also saw them break a record held by Arsenal's men's team.

Between May 2001 and November 2002, Arsene Wenger's side scored in 55 consecutive Premier League games, a tally now overtaken by Chelsea women.

Sam Kerr teed up the second goal of the game for Kirby, with the duo having now combined for 17 goals in the Super League.

It is the joint-most of any pair, alongside Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead. In just 23 league games together Kirby has assisted Kerr 10 times and Kerr has assisted Kirby seven times.

Champions Chelsea fell foul of an early challenge from Arsenal on Sunday in a gripping first glimpse of a potential Women's Super League title battle. 

Chelsea and Arsenal have accounted for seven of the 10 WSL championships to date, including the past four in a row, although the Blues were dominant last term. 

The beaten Champions League finalists entered the match at Emirates Stadium having suffered only one defeat in 43 league games and unbeaten in 39 away from home – a competition record. 

However, Arsenal, whose most recent defeat came against Chelsea in February, landed the first blow in 2021-22 with an impressive 3-2 win. 

Vivianne Miedema netted a record-extending 61st WSL goal to open the scoring, steering inside the near post for her sixth strike on opening weekends. 

Chelsea were level on the stroke of half-time through Erin Cuthbert but trailed again four minutes after the restart as Miedema turned provider for Beth Mead, who raced away and finished in style. 

Mead's eighth WSL goal against Chelsea – all at home – followed, meaning Pernille Harder's fine header proved merely a consolation as the Blues became the third team to lose the first game of a title defence, after Arsenal in 2013 and Liverpool in 2015. 

 

It was a first win in six against Chelsea for Arsenal, but they now have the outright most victories versus the reigning WSL champions (six). 

And the Gunners hope this will not be a one-off, as two-goal Mead told Sky Sports: "We are a team that want to fight for the title, so we won't make it easy for these teams. 

"Hopefully we can continue to do that for the rest of the season." 

She added: "[This win] has been a long time coming. We've had a lot of seasons where we've [fallen] short in these games." 

Pernille Harder is encouraged by the increasingly competitive nature of the Women's Champions League after Chelsea reached the final last season in a campaign where Lyon's run of titles was ended.

Lyon had been European champions in five successive seasons heading into 2020-21, pipping Harder's Wolfsburg in 2018 and 2020.

The Denmark superstar was named UEFA Women's Player of the Year on both occasions and secured a world-record move to Chelsea, where she again made the final.

The Blues came up short, but there was a new name on the trophy as Barcelona claimed their first title after Lyon were knocked out in the last eight.

Harder, speaking on behalf of Heineken, told Stats Perform: "Chelsea, as a team, we want to be one of the big teams in the world, and I think we still are. I think we can develop more from last year.

"Last year, we reached the final, so that's good, and we have the potential to be even better.

"But I also think the competition is really high. Now, there are so many good teams in Europe, so it will also be even more difficult to reach the final and to win the Champions League.

"I think it's good that it's not only one team that is just dominating the women's football.

"Lyon has been doing that for so many years, but I think now more teams are getting into the competition.

"Obviously, Lyon is still one of the big teams who will compete about the title, but it's really good that it has developed in this way with more teams being contenders for winning the title."

Team success is the priority for Harder, despite her individual recognition following Wolfsburg's final runs.

"The individual [awards] wasn't a goal for me – it was just the outcome," she said. "But the ultimate goals are to develop and to develop as a team but also to win titles.

"If that will make me win another individual award, that's just maybe a result on a good season. But that's not the main goal for me."

Heineken is a new sponsor for the Women's Champions League and Women's European Championship, which Harder sees as evidence of the sport's development.

"It's great that Heineken has chosen to go into women's football, to the Women's Champions League and the [Women's European] Championship that's coming in the next years," she said.

"It just shows the way women's football has developed, that a big brand like Heineken wants to go in and help to develop women's football even more.

"So, obviously, me as a football player, a women's football player, I'm really happy and pleased about that."
 

Watch Heineken's latest announcement video sharing three more reasons to cheer, having extended its already expansive footprint in motorsport and football with three exciting new partnerships – UEFA Women's Champions League, UEFA Women's European Championship and W Series.

Jorginho and Roberto Mancini could cap a golden year for Italy by landing UEFA honours after both were shortlisted for top awards on Thursday, though Manchester City duo Kevin De Bruyne and Pep Guardiola could spoil the Azzurri's party.

Azzurri midfielder Jorginho won the Champions League with Chelsea and followed that by helping his country to Euro 2020 glory, under the leadership of coach Mancini.

Jorginho, 29, is joined on the three-man shortlist for UEFA Men's Player of the Year by Chelsea team-mate N'Golo Kante, a standout in the Champions League final, and by City playmaker De Bruyne.

Kante played for France at Euro 2020 and De Bruyne featured for Belgium, but neither side made the progress many anticipated, with Les Bleus eliminated in the last 16 and the Red Devils bowing out to Italy in the quarter-finals.

The three players received the most votes from a panel consisting of the 24 head coaches at Euro 2020, the 80 coaches from the Champions League and Europa League group stages, and journalists from each of UEFA's 55 member associations.

The Men's Coach of the Year shortlist consists of the two coaches from the Champions League final, Chelsea's Thomas Tuchel and City's Guardiola, plus Italy boss Mancini.

It means there is no place for Gareth Southgate, who guided England to their first major men's final since the 1966 World Cup. He finished seventh in voting, UEFA announced, behind Villarreal's Europa League winning boss Unai Emery, Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone and former Inter coach Antonio Conte.

Like Guardiola, both Simeone and Conte led their club sides to domestic league title success.

The winner of each award will be announced at UEFA's Champions League group stage draw on August 26 in Istanbul.

Barcelona had a clean sweep of the players shortlisted for the Women's Player of the Year prize, following their Spanish league and cup and Champions League treble.

The Spanish duo of Jennifer Hermoso and Alexia Putellas were joined on the list by Dutch club-mate Lieke Martens.

UEFA's women's awards stem from votes from each of the coaches in the Champions League last 16 and the leading 12 coaches according to UEFA's national team rankings, plus a pool of 20 journalists.

Former Barcelona boss Lluis Cortes is joined on that list by Chelsea's Emma Hayes and Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson.

Kevin De Bruyne has retained the men's PFA Players' Player of the Year award, matching the achievement of Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry.

Belgium star De Bruyne saw off competition from Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes, Tottenham's Harry Kane and three of his Manchester City team-mates – Ilkay Gundogan, Ruben Dias and Phil Foden, who scooped the Young Player of the Year accolade.

Foden had been nominated for the young player prize alongside fellow England internationals Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bukayo Saka and Mason Greenwood.

De Bruyne's win in voting for the Professional Footballers' Association main prize sees him match Ronaldo and Henry, greats from United and Arsenal who are the only previous players to have won the award in back-to-back seasons.

"The fact that the players chose me for this award means that I've done really well. You want to win all the trophies with the team, and this is probably the most important one as an individual trophy in the league," De Bruyne said.

"To be voted for by your competitors... that means a lot.

"When you have these things, you can show your kids and say, 'Look! This is what Daddy did when he was younger.'"

Only three Premier League players created more chances in the competition in 2020-21 than De Bruyne (80) – Fernandes (95), Mount (87) and Jack Grealish (81) – though all of them made more appearances than the 29-year-old.

De Bruyne crafted 19 big chances – defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score – with only Fernandes (20) managing a higher total.

The City playmaker scored six goals and created a further 12 in the Premier League. In that regard, he was below his expected goals estimation (9.26), but some way above his expected assists of 6.21. Ten of his assists came from passes in open play, with two from set-pieces.

On average, De Bruyne created 3.6 chances per 90 minutes, more than any of those who made the PFA's final list.

 

Foden, meanwhile, made fewer league appearances than any of his competitors for the Young Player of the Year award, and also tallied the fewest minutes (1,613).

However, his nine goals put him two ahead of the haul that Greenwood – his nearest challenger in that regard – managed, with his five assists second only to Alexander-Arnold.

Indeed, when calculated per 90 minutes, Foden averaged 0.5 goals and 0.28 assists, ranking him top among those in the frame for the award, while he also attempted more dribbles (4.18) with the highest success rate (2.83).

Another City player to scoop an award was Lauren Hemp, who took the women's Young Player of the Year prize.

Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby won the women's Players' Player of the Year award after a prolific campaign for Emma Hayes' side in the WSL and Women's Champions League.

Saturday had seen more awards sent City's way, with Pep Guardiola named the Premier League's Manager of the Season winner, while Ruben Dias took the league's own Player of the Season prize.

Barcelona won the Women's Champions League for the first time as a freak early own goal helped them to a 4-0 win over Chelsea.

Melanie Leupolz inadvertently put the ball past her own goalkeeper after just 35 seconds, and a penalty from Alexia Putellas followed by strikes from Aitana Bonmati and Caroline Graham Hansen had Barcelona four goals clear before half-time.

English champions Chelsea were expected to pose a major threat to the Barcelona goal, but key forwards Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr had an off night in Gothenburg.

Barcelona were able to cruise through the second half and become Spain's first winners of the competition, putting a 4-1 defeat to Lyon in the 2019 final firmly behind them.

On that previous occasion, Barcelona trailed 4-0 after 30 minutes, but this time it was Chelsea who suffered from the early onslaught against impressive Spanish league champions.

Lieke Martens hit the bar with a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area after just 20 seconds, and as Chelsea scrambled to clear, Kirby booted the ball against the shin of team-mate Leupolz, resulting in it looping over goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger and into the top left corner.

Barcelona boss Lluis Cortes watched his team attack with verve and great movement, winning a penalty when Leupolz clipped Jennifer Hermoso. Putellas converted and Barcelona were two goals clear after 14 minutes.

Putellas then picked a pass that released Bonmati to toe in the third, and it was 4-0 after 36 minutes when Graham Hansen buried a close-range chance after Martens dashed down the left and away from Niamh Charles before crossing low across goal.

While Barcelona celebrated, their victory removed the possibility of Chelsea winning both the men's and women's Champions League titles in the same season.

After Emma Hayes' team fell short, Chelsea will hope Thomas Tuchel's men avoid such a sour experience in the men's final on May 29 when they face Manchester City.

Hayes told BT Sport: "Today was difficult because the game was over before it began. That's what is so difficult to reflect on. The damage was done.

"I'm proud of the second-half performance. Congratulations to Barcelona. They're worthy winners and deserving of their title.

"They were favourites for a reason and you have to stay in the game against this team.

"The early goal and the manner in which we conceded it, and the penalty. Once you get a 2-0 lead in these games ... I felt everything fell for them. They got the rub of the green. They made that happen. They're a wonderful team and deserving winners."

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