Chelsea’s Hayes admits WSL title is ‘done’ after Liverpool loss

Emma Hayes admitted she believes the Women’s Super League (WSL) title-race is “done” after suffering a damaging 4-3 defeat to Liverpool, crushing the west London side’s chances of retaining the title.

The seven-goal spectacle now leaves Chelsea in an almost impossible place to win the WSL, six points behind leaders Manchester City and risk ending the season trophyless.

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“I think the title is done,” Hayes said after the game. “Of course, mathematically, it’s not, but I think the title is done.

“Our job between now and the end of the season is to keep pushing until the end, but I think it will be very difficult.

“We will never give up. But the title is far from us; it’s not in our hands. I think City are deserving, their consistency has put them in that position. Of course, we will go to the end, but I don’t think the title will be going to us this year.”

Gemma Bonner marked her 150th appearance for Liverpool by netting twice against her former club to severely harm Hayes’ chances of claiming a fifth consecutive WSL title before she departs the club at the end of this season to become the new head coach of the United States women’s national team.

Hayes’ side took an early lead through Aggie Beever-Jones, yet it was cancelled out by two nifty set-piece routines from the hosts that earned them the lead. In the final few minutes of normal times, Beever-Jones got Chelsea back on level terms however, within a minute of play restarting, substitute Leanne Kiernan gave Liverpool the lead once again.

Bonner’s header — the third of the evening — was the decisive goal for the hosts after a Teagan Micah own-goal had gifted Chelsea a chance at sharing the spoils nine minutes prior.

“I don’t know if we have ever conceded four goals in a half before. Three from set pieces is just unforgiveable,” Hayes told the BBC.

“I’m going to credit Liverpool. They wanted it; they executed their game plan. They delivered from that and from set pieces they got goals.

“We looked exhausted, but I don’t make excuses.

“I want to remind our fans how much success we have brought over the years. It’s not to be this year but I’m sure Chelsea will continue to be at the top of the game and it’s important that we go out in the best possible way.”

On Saturday, Chelsea suffered an agonising loss against Barcelona 2-0 (2-1 on aggregate) in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final despite heading into the tie 1-0 up.

After a difficult few weeks, Hayes wanted to ease the blow on her players with the entire team being visibly emotional at the final whistle.

“I’m not going to be harsh on the players. For years, they’ve delivered a lot of success for this football club and for me. I know they want to win a title, but, me being me, you can’t concede three set-piece goals, four goals in a half and expect to win a game of football. That’s why we’re on the losing end today. But I’m going to be kind to my players for everything they’ve done, I don’t want to be too harsh on them,” Hayes said.

“I’ve had amazing memories at this football club. We’ve won a lot of things and I’d love to bring titles again to Chelsea but that’s not going to be this year I’m afraid. My job now is to prepare the team for the last few games to continue to compete and enjoy.”

Hayes’ side now sit six points behind Manchester City yet have a game in hand. City need a minimum of four points from their last two games to be crowned champions for the first time since 2016.

Chelsea do have a small chance of winning the league and need to hope Gareth Taylor’s side drop points in their final two games against Arsenal and Aston Villa to avoid bidding farewell to their manager trophyless.