Cankovic bags a brace as Chelsea hold off Reading after Arsenal and West Ham clinch away wins
CHELSEA withstood a spirited fightback from Reading to restore a three-point gap over Arsenal.
Fran Kirby put the Blues in front with a quickfire free-kick as they sealed a 3-2 win on a snowy evening at Kingsmeadow.
ReutersJelena Cankovic scored twice inside five minutes as Chelsea raced to a 3-0 first-half lead against Reading[/caption]
Amalie Eikeland netted as the Royals fought back with two goals in the game’s second halfGetty
Emma Hayes’ side’s battling display sees them remain top of the table.
And title rivals Arsenal, Manchester United and Man City all current have a game in hand on the Blues.
Royals boss Kelly Chambers shared her dismay with the match’s opening goal being allowed to stand.
Her comments were made after footage showed a Blues player in an offside position.
Chambers told Sky Sports: “The first goal just deflated us.
“We had a good 30 minutes where we were solid and caused Chelsea problems but the officiating, we speak about it week in week out, but it’s costing teams”.
After the game Hayes spoke about her support for the use of VAR in the game.
At present the system is not deployed at WSL fixtures.
The Chelsea chief told Sky Sports: I didn’t even see the goal but the guys told me it was offside. This happens.
“I am an advocate of VAR because if [mistakes] lead to goals, I can totally understand how every team across the league might feel with that.
“It goes in swings and roundabouts – it went in our favour this week, maybe in another week it doesn’t. But we do have to improve it.”
The Blues caught Reading cold in the 16th minute with Kirby slotting the ball home after the hosts reacted swiftly with their free-kick
And summer signing Jelena Cankovic put in a clinical performance in attack scoring twice in four minutes the first spell.
But Reading fought back with Sanne Troeslgaard firing a low shot under Ann-Katrin Berger with half an hour remaining.
And Amalie Eikeland made it 3-2 a minute later, firing home at the near post.
The hosts held out to seal the win and maintain their advantage at the top of the table with a Champions League duel with Albanian club Vllaznia up next on Friday.
Elsewhere Vivianne Miedema opened the floodgates for Arsenal as they fought back from a goal down to trouce Aston Villa 4-1.
Kirsty Hanson struck from 20 yards to give the hosts a sixth-minute lead at Villa Park.
Jordan Nobbs and Katie McCabe were both on target during Arsenal’s 4-1 trouncing of Aston VillaGetty
But Carla Ward’s battlers saw the game levelled after Rachel Corsie’s own goal.
A Miedema volley saw the Gunners go 2-1 up before Katie McCabe helped them double their advantage with a tap-in.
And Jordan Nobbs capped off the victory with the game’s final goal with six minutes of normal time remaining.
Victory saw Arsenal leapfrog Man United to second spot behind Chelsea.
And Hawa Cissoko marked her return from a five-match ban by helping West Ham consign Tottenham to a 2-0 defeat.
Goals in the first and second periods saw the Irons claim maximum points on the road.
Kerys Harrops’ challenge on Kate Longhurst saw West Ham given a penalty close to half-time.
But Dagny Brynjarsdottir failed to convert from the spot in the 47th minute.
The second spell saw the Iceland ace make up for her miss by blazing home a rocket shot in the 49th minute.
Spurs looked to battle their way back towards the games closing stages at their Breyer Group Stadium home.
But they got caught on the counter with centre-back Cissoko sending a chipped 83rd-minute effort over Tottenham keeper Rebecca Spencer.
Irons boss Paul Konchesky said: “For Hawa it was excellent. It (the goal) has been a long time coming.
“I didn’t think she would chip it.
“I’m really pleased she scored today, but I thought she was fantastic at the other end of the pitch defending the box along with the back four and our goalkeeper.”
GettyClaudia Walker and her West Ham team-mates moved up to fourth after their away win against Tottenham[/caption]
The result saw Rehanne Skinner’s side drop to seventh before their midweek duel with Everton.
And Konchesky’s side leapfrogged Aston Villa to go fifth in their last league clash before Christmas.