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Manchester United manager Marc Skinner suggested his players were left ‘fuming’ at not being awarded two penalties during Sunday’s narrow 1-0 defeat to WSL title rivals Chelsea.
Chelsea won the game courtesy of a first half goal from Sam Kerr that was the result of a long ball from Lauren James – the Blues had a number of similar chances, but saw relatively little of the ball across the whole 90 minutes compared to United.
The result puts Chelsea top of the WSL, two points ahead of United and with a game in hand. They are now in the driving seat to land a fourth successive title, while United must keep their focus to ensure they still hold onto a top three place to qualify for the Champions League for the first time.
United have made big strides in 2022/23, beating West Ham, Everton and Tottenham away from, which were all fixtures that ended in draws last season. They have also won against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and were disappointed to only draw with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Chelsea, who won 3-1 in the reverse fixture at Leigh Sports Village back in November – the only other game they have lost in 90 minutes all season, was considered the ‘ultimate acid test’ for United’s challenge ahead of kick-off at Kingsmeadow and proved a step just too far again.
But the fact that Chelsea were limited to pumping it long to create their chances and were dominated by United in open play, shows how tight the margins were.
Speaking afterwards, Skinner was left ruing two potential penalties that were not given by referee Cheryl Foster. One saw Nikita Parris clipped by Kadeisha Buchanan after running into the box in front of the Chelsea defender, while the other centred on Ona Batlle being upended.
“We’ve come to Chelsea, we’ve had 63% possession, we’ve dominated the ball, we’ve moved Chelsea into being able to counter attack and we’ve come away having got into the box twice and they’re two penalties,” the United boss summarised.
He went on to describe his players as ‘fuming’, citing the week of preparation on the training ground and that, “We came here without fear. That’s a different Manchester United.” He added, “They are both stonewallers. If one of them goes your way it is a different game.
“The same incident, especially the aerial challenge, in midfield is given as a foul. We have to invest, we have invest in the officials. We have to invest in the surrounding technology that can help.”