Chelsea’s bid to land the Women’s Super League 1 title began in confident fashion with a 6-0 victory against Bristol City at Kingsmeadow.
The Spring Series champions top the 2017/18 table after the opening round of fixtures thanks to Maren Mjelde’s double and further goals from Drew Spence, England striker Fran Kirby, Magdalena Eriksson and Gilly Flaherty.
Eni Aluko, the striker who made allegations of racism, harassment and bullying against former England manager Mark Sampson, came off the bench as a late Chelsea substitute.
Aluko claimed Sampson made racist comments towards herself and Spence during his time in charge of the national team. Sampson, sacked by the Football Association on Wednesday over an unrelated matter, strongly denies Aluko’s claims and has twice been cleared by separate investigations.
Manchester City started the season with a 4-0 win at Yeovil. Izzy Christiansen, from the penalty spot, Jane Ross, Jill Scott and Georgia Stanway were on target for last year’s champions.
Jodie Taylor kept her cool to score a last-minute penalty and give Arsenal a 3-2 home win against Birmingham.
Ellen White gave the visitors an early lead but fellow England forward Taylor equalised before half-time, only for White to restore the Blues’ advantage just before the hour mark. Louise Quinn’s red card 10 minutes from time looked like it might scupper Arsenal’s chances, but Lisa Evans quickly levelled things up for the 10 women.
Taylor then tucked away her spot-kick to give the Gunners what had just minutes earlier seemed an unlikely three points.
Simona Koren scored the only goal of the game after six minutes as Sunderland won 1-0 at Reading.