Manchester City’s Laura Coombs finishes off Brighton for easy WSL win | Women’s Super League

Goals were easy to come by for Manchester City as they continued their eye-catching home form against Brighton. Chloe Kelly played a starring role as Gareth Taylor’s side cruised to victory and deepened Brighton’s troubles near the bottom of the table.

An early own goal from Veatriki Sarri sent City on their way before Julie Blakstad and Laura Coombs added to the tally. Brighton pulled one back late on through Lee Guem-min.

“It was a good win,” Taylor, the City manager, said. “I think we looked a bit slow in the first five minutes, but the goal settled us. Our set-play delivery was really good today and then after that we scored two excellent goals.

“I would say the second half was a bit too loose from us in possession … I’m just disappointed that we’ve not added more goals to our performance. But it keeps us right in touch and that’s the really pleasing thing.”

Taylor’s side have been somewhat flying under the radar this season, but their form has been noteworthy. Plenty of turnover in the summer and injury issues led to disruption early on but his side are unbeaten since September and evidently heading in the right direction. With the league’s joint top scorer in Bunny Shaw spearheading their attack they have made the Academy Stadium a fortress, winning the past eight at home.

City were clear favourites with the weight of history and Brighton’s inconsistent form on their side. They have won all but one of their previous league encounters against the Seagulls, scoring 34 goals and conceding just three. Amy Merricks’ side have been scoring more recently but are predictably leaky at the back.

This trend continued in the first half with City dominant throughout. Kelly ran Brighton’s defensive line ragged with her dancing feet and driving offensive play. The England forward is still searching for her first domestic goal of the season and seemed determined to break that run. It appeared she had in the 11th minute as her dipping corner ended up in the back of the net only for it later to be marked as an own goal against Sarri, who had got a touch at the near post.

Kelly continued to be City’s main attacking outlet and was the instigator of their second goal. With another driving run down the right she beat both Poppy Pattinson and Lee before setting up Blakstad for a diving header. It was the 21-year-old’s fifth goal of the season as she continues to make an impact.

Brighton’s Jorja Fox and Manchester City’s Julie Blakstad (right) battle for the ball
Brighton’s Jorja Fox and Manchester City’s Julie Blakstad (right) battle for the ball. Photograph: Peter Powell/PA

With less than half an hour on the clock, City were three up and in cruise control. Coombs, known as a strong box-to-box midfielder, produced a sublime top‑corner finish that flew past the outstretched Megan Walsh.

With a comfortable lead, City could afford to take their foot off the gas in the second half. Taylor was also able to give minutes to his bench, with Kelly brought off, among others.

Brighton proved a sterner opposition in the second, with Danielle Carter coming close to pulling one back for her side. They got their consolation at the death when Lee poked home in the 93rd minute. For her part, Merricks was impressed by the improvements her side made in the game, providing them with a platform to build on.

“I think in the first half there were some key areas that we needed to improve on,” Brighton’s interim manager said. “I think we did that at half-time and came out better in the second. The players really applied themselves and were committed to the idea of what we wanted to do … Obviously, they’re going to have opportunities. I think we limited that, and we created [opportunities]. We can hold our heads up high today in terms of how we showcased ourselves.”

Despite this consolation, it was a comfortable victory for City as they closed the gap on the top of the table. Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium await them next weekend, an occasion that will prove a real test of their title credentials.

Vivianne Miedema strikes to sink Everton and get Arsenal back on track | Women’s Super League

It took a stunning strike from Dutch record goalscorer Vivianne Miedema to give the Gunners a narrow win at home to Everton, but the scoreline made the league meeting look far less comfortable than it ultimately was.

“I felt OK until the last five minutes,” said Arsenal’s manager, Jonas Eidevall. “I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t put the game to rest because we had chances to do it.”

Despite the utter dominance of the home team in this fixture, with the Gunners having won the past 13 games against Everton, scoring 36 and conceding six, number 14 (which would be the longest winning run of one team over another in the WSL) was not a foregone conclusion.

Everton are a renewed force under Brian Sørensen and while it is taking time to show in their results, the fledgling signs of growth are there.

Meanwhile, Arsenal fell to a first league defeat last time out in the WSL, losing 3-2 to Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium and ending an 18-game unbeaten run and 14-game winning streak.

“Winning is strong for the team,” said Eidevall when asked how important the result was. “We see a team here in an adverse moment that we are hopefully on the verge of turning around with players returning, but I think we have been managing a difficult period so far very well, and that’s important if you want to build a winning team.”

For Sørensen, it was a sign of growth that they held Arsenal to one goal for so long. “It’s probably where we are,” he said. “They are a really good team and we had a chance to go away with a point but we weren’t sharp enough.”

Against United the absence of Kim Little, who picked up an MCL injury in Arsenal’s defeat of West Ham in October, felt like one too many. She joined Lina Hurtig, Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza and Teyah Goldie in the treatment room, while Beth Mead ruptured her ACL in the team’s first loss of the season to join them.

It was a welcome sight for Arsenal fans then, to see influential centre-back duo Williamson and Souza back in the matchday squad for the visit of the Merseyside team, who themselves could recall Nicoline Sørensen to the squad for the first time since her ACL injury.

Arsenal’s Leah Williamson comes on as a substitute against Everton.
Arsenal’s Leah Williamson makes her return from injury, coming on as a substitute against Everton. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PA

The Gunners dominated from the off, as they have so consistently this season, but they lacked bite up top, giving Everton hope when they got rare opportunities on the counterattack. The fluid formation of the Toffees would see them drop into a back five whenever Arsenal pushed towards the final third, meaning options were limited. Despite being in control, after 20 minutes each team only had one shot apiece, with neither on target.

It needed something special and then it happened. Miedema, making her first league start since Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat of Reading on 16 October, and having benefited from a rest over the international break, collected from Caitlin Foord who, with her back to goal, shielded the ball into the feet of the WSL record goalscorer. Miedema cut onto her right foot before lashing into the top far corner.

Arsenal should have doubled their lead in the second half, when goalkeeper Emily Ramsey, on loan from Manchester United, pulled off an impressive double save to deny Miedema before being beaten by a third consecutive effort only for a blue shirt to clear off the line.

With 20 minutes remaining Williamson would enter the fray in place of Jen Beattie and instantly blasted the ball clear to the delight of the home crowd.

Thorns coach Wilkinson resigns after concerns over relationship with player | NWSL

Portland Thorns head coach Rhian Wilkinson has resigned from her post after an investigation into her conduct.

The former Canada international said she had reported herself to the Thorns last season, and the club then passed the information on to the National Women’s Soccer League. Wilkinson said that she and one of her players had developed “feelings for one another” but the relationship went no further. The NSWL and the league’s Players’ Association then investigated the matter.

“In an effort to follow NWSL and NWSLPA processes to protect player safety, and to be as transparent as possible, the player and I immediately stopped spending time outside of training together, and soon after stopped all communication outside of work,” Wilkinson wrote in a statement. “In less than a week, I reported myself to human resources to make sure I had not crossed any ethical lines.”

The investigation exonerated Wilkinson of any wrongdoing but she has still chosen to step down.

“The Portland Thorns and Coach Wilkinson followed all League processes and policies and fully cooperated with this investigation,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement. “The joint investigative team conducted a thorough investigation that resulted in a finding of no violation of League policies.”

However, Wilkinson said that her players had lost faith in her. “Once you’ve lost the locker room, which I have, there’s no return,” she told The Athletic.

Wilkinson’s resignation comes at a tumultuous time for the NWSL after a report found that sexual and emotional abuse was widespread across the league. Former Thorns coach Paul Riley was accused of sexual misconduct by several players. On Thursday, Thorns owner Merritt Paulson said he is putting the club up for sale.

Wilkinson was a successful coach on the field: she led the Thorns to the NWSL title in October. She won 181 caps and two Olympic bronze medals as a player with Canada.

“I would like to thank the Portland Thorns organization, the fans, the staff and most importantly the players for a remarkable year,” Wilkinson wrote in her statement on Friday. “During my time in Portland I have met some incredible people and been fortunate enough to coach some of the best players in the game.”

USA’s Sophia Smith: ‘You won’t get far if you don’t love the game’ | USA women’s football team

Welcome to Moving the Goalposts, the Guardian’s free women’s football newsletter. Here’s an extract from this week’s edition. To receive the full version once a week, just pop your email in below:

In October Sophia Smith sat in front of the gathered media in Washington DC and calmly outlined her ambition: to become the best player in the world. It is quite a claim but then she had already had a pretty good year: She was the 2022 NWSL MVP (the youngest ever), was awarded the same accolade for the season’s final, which her club Portland Thorns won, and scored in the final.

The goal – in the fourth minute – was celebrated with a shrug, which went viral. What was it for? The critics. Smith said there had been people who didn’t feel she deserved being the league MVP. She added: “And that’s that.”

When we catch up with the rising star of the USWNT she is in relaxed mood but reiterates that her drive to become the world’s No 1 is as much about having the right mentality as it is about any end point. The goal, to some extent, is the point.

“I think it’s going to be a constant grind and getting better,” she says. “I don’t think there’s an end goal in what that looks like. But I think it’s just putting myself in an environment every day where I know I’m going to be challenged and I’m going to get better and grow. Not only just as a player, but a person as well.”

To achieve that mindset, she says she needs to be constantly challenged: “I know that I need someone to push me. I need someone to have very high standards for me. Even if I don’t like to hear certain things, or get frustrated, ultimately I understand that that’s what’s helping me get better and what’s helping me grow.”

Sophia Smith (centre) of the Portland Thorns celebrates her MVP trophy after the NWSL Cup Final against Kansas City Current
Sophia Smith (centre) of the Portland Thorns celebrates her MVP trophy after the NWSL Cup Final against Kansas City Current on 29 October, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photograph: Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The success of women’s football has been hard to ignore in 2022 and Smith is excited about that growth. Reflecting on the upward trajectory of the game, she is keen to mention the women that laid the foundation for her: “I’m lucky enough to have grown up with NWSL as a career and a goal to have. I know a lot of players before me didn’t have that.

“Throughout my career there’s been so much growth in the investment of women’s soccer. I think people are finally starting to realise that if you pay attention, and if you put the game on a channel where people can watch it easily like the men’s … and if you invest, and if you take the time, it’s a really amazing sport and people want to watch, and people care about it.”

Like a few USWNT stars before her, Smith rose through the ranks at Stanford University and helped them to the championship title in 2019 before being the No 1 pick in the 2020 NWSL draft. Smith’s growth with Thorns has been steady since then, something she credits to the legends and veterans she plays with. That’s a list that includes Canadian powerhouse Christine Sinclair, who Smith says is one of the best goalscorers of all time.

Smith was also among the first of the new generation’s stars to break into the USWNT. When Vlatko Andonovski began to transition eras in earnest this year, she was the first to break into the lineup and has been the coach’s go-to on the wing since then. She is very likely to be found playing there in the World Cup next year.

She has some advice to aspiring footballers, based on how she handles the hard work it takes to keep progressing: “The main thing is you have to love it. I don’t think you will get too far if you don’t genuinely love the game. Because you know as a career, it’s fun, but it’s also a grind.”

She adds: “So I say to have fun and enjoy it. But also you have to do the work. You have to do work when nobody’s watching and put the time and put the effort into it. Because women’s soccer is growing, and it’s becoming harder and harder to be great. And I think that’s great, but I also think it’s important for people to know that you have to put in the work and you have to truly care about what you’re doing.”

Sophia Smith celebrates after scoring against Colombia in June
Sophia Smith celebrates after scoring against Colombia in June. Photograph: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Smith is currently resting and enjoying time with her boyfriend, reflecting on a successful year with the Thorns. But everything from here forward, she says, is about the World Cup. It’s always on her mind, and watching the men’s tournament now has her even more excited: “Honestly, everything I do is for that, to make that roster and to contribute to that team. I think we started preparing for the World Cup a long time ago. Now it’s just getting closer and closer.

“Everything – how we train, how we recover – you know, everything goes into our preparation for that World Cup. It’s definitely something that I’m constantly thinking about. But also, I’m just so excited. If I get the chance to represent this country, that would be a dream come true.”

Talking points

Statistics: This month the stats website Fbref said it was expanding its data reporting service to include a vast array of women’s football competitions. The announcement includes 19 total new competitions, eight of which are women’s leagues, as well as both the men’s and women’s World Cups. Their service provides data on everything from xG and shot-creating actions to data on passing and ball progression.

Women’s Champions League: The group stage picked up again last week. Now halfway through, Chelsea, Wolfsburg, Barcelona and Arsenal sit atop their respective groups. Chelsea lead their section by the widest margin, with three wins, 11 goals scored and none conceded.

Sophie Ingle of Chelsea celebrates with teammate Erin Cuthbert after scoring against Real Madrid
Sophie Ingle of Chelsea celebrates with teammate Erin Cuthbert after scoring against Real Madrid. Photograph: Harriet Lander/Chelsea FC/Getty Images

Injury research: Beth Mead’s recent ACL injury has sparked renewed calls for more substantial research and support regarding this devastating injury in women’s sport. Global stars such as Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Alexia Putellas as well as younger rising talents such as Catarina Macario and Ellie Carpenter are currently sidelined with the injury, which affects women six times more often than it does men.

Quote of the week

“The greatest moment in Canadian soccer is hands down #CANWNT winning the Olympic gold medal. There is no debate about that. Differentiating between Canadian men’s and women’s soccer is also imperative” – the CBC journalist Shireen Ahmed, in response to a pundit’s claim that Alphonso Davies’s World Cup goal in defeat against Croatia was the greatest moment in the country’s football history.

Chelsea’s 11th goal in this year’s Champions League group stage came from Erin Cuthbert. Her 75th-minute strike from the wing made it 2-0 against Real Madrid – although it may have been more of a cross.

Got a question for our writers – or want to suggest a topic to cover? Get in touch by emailing or adding a comment below.

Vivianne Miedema applies finishing touch to earn Arsenal point at Juventus | Women’s Champions League

This was a well-balanced encounter as Arsenal were held to a draw by Juventus. Closely matched throughout, the Gunners had to battle from a goal down to maintain their unbeaten European record this season. The influential Lineth Beerensteyn put the hosts ahead in the 53rd minute before Vivianne Miedema hit back, heading home to ensure her side earned a valuable point.

As soon as these two sides were drawn together back in October, there was an extra weight added to this fixture. Fondly dubbed the “Joe Montemurro derby” by fans, this was the first time the former Arsenal manager was coming up against his old side and their new manager, Jonas Eidevall. Having spent almost four years at the helm in north London, the Australian departed for a new challenge in 2021, having previously led the Gunners to a first WSL title in seven years.

Football, as always, moves on, and Montemurro and Eidevall are building with their new clubs. Arsenal have impressed in this Champions League campaign, but they arrived in Turin after falling to their first loss of the season and with their injury worries mounting. Beth Mead was the latest to be added to the list having suffered a significant ACL injury against Manchester United at the weekend. Her absence brought Miedema into the starting lineup in her now customary role in the pocket behind Stina Blackstenius.

Juventus, meanwhile, went into this fixture two points behind their opponents in Group C and knowing that victory would massively bolster their chances of progression. Things are not going entirely their way this season – they are second in Serie A behind high-flying Roma. The Italian champions were also without the midfield stalwart Sara Gunnarsdottir but were bolstered when their captain, Cecilia Salvai, was declared fit.

Lineth Beerensteyn fires home to give Juventus the lead against Arsenal.
Lineth Beerensteyn fires home to give Juventus the lead against Arsenal. Photograph: Massimo Pinca/Reuters

Arsenal started brightly, enjoying the space the expansive pitch provided. Jordan Nobbs and Frida Maanum were able to influence play while Caitlin Foord’s running and delivery from the left provided a productive outlet. Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, also formerly of Arsenal, had to be alert in goal when Blackstenius broke through the defensive lines on multiple occasions. The Sweden forward should have been more clinical, in particular when she was set away by Maanum only to direct her shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Juventus offered their own threat with the pace of Beerensteyn causing Arsenal problems. The hosts finished the half on the front foot and should have gone in ahead: just before the break Arianna Caruso found herself unmarked in the box but sent her header wide.

The temperature may have dropped as the teams re-emerged, but Juventus were determined to turn up the heat. They bided their time, remaining compact in the face of Arsenal possession before taking the lead. The electric Beerensteyn had provided the backline with enough warnings and finally made them pay when she broke on to Cristiana Girelli’s defence-splitting pass and fired clinically past Manuela Zinsberger. A roar reverberated around the stadium, as more than 8,000 supporters cheered with delight.

Juventus had the wind in their sails, but Eidevall’s Arsenal can never be discounted. They have shown plenty of grit this season, and here they battled hard to draw level. Miedema, always one for the big occasions, rose highest in the box to meet a pinpoint Frida Maanum corner. Towering over Julia Grosso and protected by Lotte Wubben-Moy, she glanced a header home to level.

The equaliser caused Eidevall to shuffle his pack with the limited options he had available. Jen Beattie was brought in to offer aerial solidity with Katie McCabe pushing further upfield. The final quarter, however, was a stuttering encounter with niggling fouls and substitutions disrupting the flow. Neither goalkeeper was really troubled as the game drew to a close and the points were shared.

Arsenal will travel homeperhaps the happier of the two. A draw away from home in this competition is no mean feat and they maintain their cushion at the top of Group C. They will host the same opposition at the Emirates in a fortnight time, a stage that they will feel gives them the advantage as they look to secure progression to the next stage.

ITV pundit Nadia Nadim exits studio mid-match after learning of mother’s death | World Cup 2022

ITV World Cup pundit Nadia Nadim has revealed she had to leave the studio while on air after learning that her mother had died.

The Denmark international footballer wrote on Instagram that her mother, Hadima Nadim, 57, had been killed in a collision with a truck on her way home from the gym on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old was part of ITV’s coverage of Denmark’s 0-0 draw with Tunisia in Qatar but had to leave the studio before the final whistle.

Nadim, her four sisters and their mother fled Afghanistan when she was 11, having been in hiding for three years after her father Rabani, an army general, was executed by the Taliban in 2000.

The former Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain forward wrote: “Tuesday morning my Mother was killed by a truck. She was on her way back from the gym.

“Words cannot describe what I’m feeling. I have lost the most important person in my life and it happened so sudden and unexpected.

“She was only 57. She was a warrior who had fought for every inch of her life.

“She didn’t give me life once but twice, and everything I/we are is because of her.

“I have lost my home and I know nothing’s gonna ever feel the same. Life is unfair and I don’t understand why her and why this way. I love you and I will see you again.”

Nadim, who plays for National Women’s Soccer League club Racing Louisville FC in the US, added: “Her funeral is going to be soon … please come and show her the love, respect and prayers she deserves.”

After Nadim’s father’s death, Nadim’s mother sold all of their possessions to take a minivan to Karachi, southern Pakistan, where they waited two months for fake passports before taking a flight to Italy.

The family spent days hiding in a basement in Milan, then 50 hours in the back of a truck to reach what they were told was London, but turned out to be a refugee camp in rural Denmark, where Nadim discovered her love for playing football.

Chelsea in control of group after Ingle and Cuthbert sink Real Madrid | Football

Erin Cuthbert had said: “People say I only score bangers and it’s actually annoying – I want to score tap‑ins as well, I want to be known as a goalscorer,” after her stunning strike against Tottenham on Sunday. However the Scottish forward, who last week signed a new contract with Chelsea, fired in from wide to ensure the Blues extended their lead at the top of Group A in the Women’s Champions League with a 2-0 defeat of Real Madrid – and enhanced her reputation for stylish goals.

“She was outstanding,” said Emma Hayes. “I don’t think there was a blade of grass she didn’t cover. There was a tenacity to her performance that we’ve all come to expect.”

There were three changes to the Chelsea side that beat Tottenham 3-0 on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, with Niamh Charles on in place of France’s Ève Périssett, Canada’s Olympic gold-medal winner Jessie Fleming shifted to the bench to make way for Fran Kirby, and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd favoured over Lauren James.

The biggest blow came on Tuesday, though, with the news that the influential forward Pernille Harder had undergone surgery following a hamstring injury picked up on international duty.

For Real, Athenea del Castillo – the goalscorer in their 1-0 away win at Sporting Huelva on Saturday – was on the bench, Misa Rodríguez returned in goal in place of France’s Méline Gérard, while Maite Oroz, Freja Olofsson, Naomie Feller and Esther González all started after sitting out at the weekend.

In Hayes’s first game at Kingsmeadow after her emergency hysterectomy following a lengthy struggle with endometriosis, Chelsea started brightly, and – after some nice work from Sam Kerr – Kirby collected and forced a save from Rodríguez in the fourth minute.

Sophie Ingle heads home to give Chelsea the lead over Real Madrid.

Sophie Ingle heads home to give Chelsea the lead after Erin Cuthbert’s corner was flicked on by Millie Bright. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Despite the quick start, there was little to separate the two sides, neither of which had conceded a goal in Group A. Victory would give Chelsea a chance to stretch five points clear of Real and Paris Saint-Germain at the group’s midway point, while the Albanian side Vllaznia sit bottom, without a goal or a point, after a 5-0 defeat against PSG in the early kick‑off. But despite the chance to really take control of the group, Hayes’s side struggled to create clear goalscoring opportunities.

The Real Madrid manager, Alberto Toril, said before kick-off that his team were “going to fight and make life difficult” and they did just that, stifling service to Kerr, Kirby and the subdued Rytting Kaneryd. The latter was substituted in place of James, while Kirby made way for Fleming around the hour as Hayes attempted to inject some energy into an increasingly soul-sucking half of football.

Chelsea were forced to rely on a set‑piece to break through in the 68th minute, with Cuthbert’s corner from the right headed on at the near post by Millie Bright and turned in by the head of Ingle at the back. It was a rocket the crowd and players sorely needed.

The first goal was swiftly followed by the second and it was also Cuthbert’s second screamer in two games. Her cross-cum-shot flew into the net from the right to give her team a two-goal cushion.

“That’s a secret,” Cuthbert said of whether she meant it. “I meant to fire it across the goal and see what happens. It was lucky it came off my boot quite nicely and went over the keeper’s head and in.”

Toril, though, was happy with the progress of his team. “It was a very good game for both teams,” he said. We were quite a similar level, we are a young team, we were against a team that is very mature. We are happy and we were good.”

In the end it was simple for Chelsea, but the game was far from pretty. That is what is so effective about Hayes’s side: regardless of how they play or how long it takes, they get results.

‘Each player can be a Wonder Woman’: How Tigres UANL grew their fanbase | Sport

Welcome to Moving the Goalposts, the Guardian’s free women’s football newsletter. Here’s an extract from this week’s edition. To receive the full version once a week, just pop your email in below:

For many years the United States have been at the very top of women’s football. The USA have won four out of eight World Cups and their domestic game has always been seen as one of the leading women’s leagues in the world.

Recently, however, Canada (winning the 2020 Olympics after beating America in the semi-final) and England (winning Euro 2022 and beating the USA in a friendly in October) have closed the gap. There is tough competition for the NWSL [the women’s league in the US] in regard to being the best and most viewed in the world with the Women’s Super League in England making great strides.

And now there is another competitor on the scene: Mexico’s and, in particular, Tigres UANL. Recently they announced their 2-0 win against América in the Apertura 2022 final second leg on 15 November had the largest TV audience for a women’s game in North America.

The audience, according to the club, was 2.88 million watching it on Mexican TV. The match also had more than 700,000 views on Facebook Live and, most importantly, more than 41,000 present at the stadium. It continues a trend as the club attracts a huge fanbase and with that has come success. The league title was their fifth and they have been in eight of the 10 finals in the competition’s history.

Fans of Tigres Femenil cheer their team during the recent Apertura final against América.
Fans of Tigres Femenil cheer their team during the recent Apertura final against América. Photograph: Azael Rodríguez/Getty Images

“It is like fulfilling a dream we had as children,” says the club captain, Liliana Mercado. She has been with Tigres since 2017 and has played 202 games in the yellow and blue shirt, the most games in the history of the team and the league. “Women’s football is here to stay. We are fortunate to be living in a time when it is possible to set these records in our country.”

How did Tigres do it? There is no single, simple answer – or a formula for others to follow – as a few factors have contributed. Their nickname is the Amazonas and over the past five years they have become intrinsically linked with the super hero Wonder Woman, herself an Amazonian and one of the most famous symbols of girl power there is.

This has developed into a two-year partnership between the Liga MX team and Warner Bros, part of how they are building their identity. “Each one of our players is a potential Wonder Woman,” says the club president, Mauricio Galván.

Tigres UANL Feminil arrive for the second leg of the 2022 Apertura final against América.
Tigres UANL Feminil arrive for the second leg of the 2022 Apertura final against América. Photograph: Jam Media/Getty Images

Another strategy is to use the club’s already large fanbase on social media to promote their games and attract fans to the stadium. As Galván says, they needed to give the female players an “equal environment” in relation to the men’s team to grow their game. “We give them the same presence as the men. We promote games in many ways and also use interactions between the men’s and women’s squads,” he says. “We need to remember that we have nine out of the 10 biggest attendances in Liga MX.”

The club have also been working on giving the Tigres Femenil squad a more international feel. The team is managed by the former Canada international Carmelina Moscato, who became the first foreign coach, as well as the first female coach, to win the league in her first year. “We have a young player called Mia Fishel from the United States, who preferred to come here rather than playing in the NWSL.” Galván says.

“And we have Uchenna Kanu, a Nigeria international forward, who fits perfectly in the team, and Natalia Gaitán, the captain of the Colombia national team. That shows how attractive our league already is.”

In August, the club announced a partnership with Angel City FC to develop the women’s game in the US and Mexico and played a friendly against them, with the NWSL side winning 1-0. The goal is to strengthen the Tigres name in the US over the next few years. “We know that [the interest in women’s football] in the US is one of the strongest in the world. This is why we are moving closer – to learn from the best how to develop the women’s game,” Galván says.

Carmelina Moscato, coach of Tigres UANL Femenil, talks to the Uchenna Kanu before the game against América.
Carmelina Moscato, coach of Tigres UANL Femenil, talks to the Uchenna Kanu before the game against América. Photograph: Azael Rodríguez/Getty Images

Tigres’ president also highlights the importance of choosing the right players and the best structure for his team. “When Liga MX Femenil started, Tigres built a competitive team to fight for the title and it inspired other teams to do the same,” he says. “Now, as a result, our league is stronger, more competitive and is part of the development of young players who are becoming professionals. Even our national team now has a majority of players from the league.”

Strengthening the women’s game in Mexico is the ultimate goal for the players. That is why the foundation of the team has not changed much over the past five years. “Early on Tigres put together a team with a solid foundation of players who are still important and have been for the first five years,” Mercado says.

Apart from Mercado, Belén Cruz, Fernanda Elizondo, Lizbeth Ovalle, Nancy Antonio, Natalia Villarreal, Nayeli Rangel and Ofelia Solís have been there from the start and are proud to see the fruition of their work. “It is important for us to know that people identify with this team”, she says. “There is no doubt that this squad is setting the tone for Mexican football.”

Talking points

#OneLove: Former England international Alex Scott gained much attention by wearing a OneLove armband during the BBC’s broadcast of the England men’s debut in the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The pundit stepped in after the FA and other federations decided not to wear the piece, fearing sporting sanctions from Fifa.

Alex Scott wears the One Love armband while working for the BBC during Monday’s World Cup coverage from Qatar.
Alex Scott wears the One Love armband while working for the BBC during Monday’s World Cup coverage from Qatar. Photograph: BBC

Primera Iberdrola: Barcelona returned from the international break scoring as many goals as they could against Alavés. The scoreboard showed an impressive 8-0 after the final whistle, which gives them high hopes for the game against Bayern Munich in the Women’s Champions League on Thursday.

Women’s Championship: Sheffield United smashed the previous Women’s Championship attendance record, with a crowd of 11,137 at their game against leaders London City Lionesses at Bramall Lane on Sunday – almost doubling the previous record of 5,752 set by Bristol City last season.

Quote of the week

“It’s unacceptable to wait for prolonged periods to see a gynaecologist in this country on the NHS. And I have to say this: if these conditions were suffered by a man, there would be zero chance you would be waiting for a prolonged period” – the Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, on the state of women’s healthcare in the NHS after her emergency hysterectomy.

Check out this classy finish by Palmeiras’ Byanca Brasil in the derby against São Paulo. The forward took advantage of the goalkeeper’s position to score the winner and put her team into the semi-finals. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Got a question for our writers – or want to suggest a topic to cover? Get in touch by emailing or adding a comment below.

England and Arsenal’s Beth Mead set for long absence due to knee injury | England women’s football team

The England forward Beth Mead has suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and “is set for an extended period on the sidelines”, Arsenal have announced. The 27-year-old sustained the injury in Saturday’s 3-2 Women’s Super League loss to Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

A statement from Arsenal on Tuesday said: “We can confirm that Beth Mead suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in our match against Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Unfortunately, this means that Beth is set for an extended period on the sidelines. She will see a surgeon in the coming days, after which further details on timescales will be established.

“Everyone at the club will now be supporting Beth and working hard to get her back on the pitch as soon as possible.”

Mead has scored three goals in the WSL and two in the Champions League for the Gunners this season, which follows her starring role in England’s triumph at the Euros during the summer. She was named player of the tournament and claimed the Golden Boot with six goals, and last month was the Ballon d’Or runner-up behind Spain’s Alexia Putellas.

England will be back in major tournament action next summer at the World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand, from 20 July.

Chelsea go top of WSL with Spurs win as Kerr shines at packed Stamford Bridge | Women’s Super League

With a chance to go top of the Women’s Super League table for the first time this season following Manchester United’s 3-2 defeat of Arsenal, Emma Hayes back in the dugout, and Stamford Bridge bouncing, it has been a good weekend for Chelsea. And a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Tottenham ensured the team leapfrogged United and Arsenal, which was the cherry on top.

Since a shock opening-day defeat against Liverpool, Chelsea have cruised to the summit and, while performances have not quite had last year’s swagger, they have been brutally efficient. It was no different at Stamford Bridge, which was scheduled to host the sellout opening game of the season against West Ham before that match was postponed following the death of the Queen and tickets transferred to this fixture.

Hayes said she would “like to be here more” and that the “audiences are here for maybe eight to 12 games a year” when asked about bringing her team back to Stamford Bridge. “We all know that [there is a] conundrum in the women’s game around what we do,” she said. “From small stadia, is there a medium-term plan to go to medium-size stadiums before eventually everyone comes home to the large stadium? I don’t know, but I’m absolutely certain we’re all outgrowing our small stadiums. The players want to play here more but I really believe we have to increase the overall pricing structure if we’re to play more in these places, because there is a cost implication to it.”

The visiting north London side, contending with a number of injuries, began more brightly but it took just 12 minutes for Chelsea to quash hopes of an upset. The centre-back Millie Bright, deep in her own half, lofted the ball towards Sam Kerr and the dynamic Australian forward shrugged off the challenge of Shelina Zadorsky before firing coolly past Tinja-Riikka Korpela.

It was a welcome sight for Hayes, who was glued to the edge of her technical area for the duration having missed Chelsea’s preceding six games in all competitions while she recovered from an emergency hysterectomy after a long battle with endometriosis.

“First half I felt fine, second half my back was killing me, when it got cold, but I feel like I hadn’t been away,” Hayes said. “Someone asked me earlier how many games of football I’ve coached in my career and I couldn’t tell you, but it’d be over 1,000 I suspect. It just felt like I was going back out to my family and I felt like a spectator for the most part and just gave little bits of information as and when necessary. I really enjoyed it.”

Chelsea had won five games in succession against their London rivals before their trip to Stamford Bridge and outscored them 12 to two. That balance looked unlikely to shift: Spurs have struggled for consistency and they are lacking an out and out striker with Kit Graham injured. Instead, partnering Jess Naz up top was the former Chelsea defensive midfielder Drew Spence who, alongside Ash Neville, is Tottenham’s joint top scorer with three goals.

“In terms of the squad depth, some of the challenges we’ve faced over the course of this season is creating a few issues with how many options we’ve got in and around the squad,” the Spurs manager, Rehanne Skinner, said. “Overall, every transfer window we’ve just got to keep evolving the squad so we’re in a more consistent position to compete with these teams and take chances when we get them.”

Chelsea’s second was as stylish as the first, with the ball dropping to Erin Cuthbert on the end of the area and the Scot sending a looping strike dipping down under the crossbar and in.

Less than 10 minutes later the home team had a third, with Guro Reiten stepping up to convert from the spot after Neville clipped the heel of the majestic Lauren James in the box. Chelsea continued their dominance in the second half but struggled to break through the renewed resilience of the Tottenham back line.

Chelsea move three points clear, albeit having played a game more, while Spurs are back to the drawing board having failed again to string together two consecutive league wins this season.