Chelsea remain at the top of the Barclays FA Women's Super League table after their 3-0 victory away to Everton on Wednesday evening.Â
Having failed to score a second-minute penalty, with Melanie Leupolz stepping up in the absence of the injured Maren Mjelde, Chelsea quickly fired back.Â
First, Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr combined as they so often do to net the opening goal, with the former the goal scorer. Then, after a fluid move down the right flank with a Niamh Charles ball dissecting the midfield, Kirby got in on the act once again when she set up Pernille Harder.Â
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Leupolz later atoned for her earlier penalty miss when she converted after Harder was denied by Tinja-Riikka Korpela, to make it three.Â
After the match, Everton head coach Willie Kirk said: "We are the fifth best team in the country, and we need to close that gap on the top teams.Â
"We were a real threat and caused them problems, but the reality is that Chelsea have the best team in the country."
In an important game at the opposite end of the table, two on-loan youngsters stole the show as Birmingham City battled back to secure a point away to West Ham United.Â
Emily Murphy put Carla Ward's Blues in front within ten minutes, while Claudia Walker's head injury - which left her bleeding in a manner similar to Terry Butcher - was the other major talking point of the first half.Â
After the break, West Ham netted two through Emily van Egmond and Katerina Svitkova and looked sure to pick up all three points, but 17-year-old Ruby Mace popped up in the last minute for the visitors to seal a 2-2 draw.Â
With that point, the Irons have now climbed off the bottom of the WSL table and above Bristol City on goal difference with a game in hand, while Birmingham sit three points above.
Manchester City kept up their title challenge with three points, and three goals, on their travels against Bristol City, who now lie at the foot of the league ranks.Â
Crosses from Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly have provided City with a flurry of opportunities this season, and Wednesday evening was no different. Caroline Weir latched onto Kelly's ball for the opener, before Ellen White tapped in a delivery from Hemp to put the Blues two to the good at the break.Â
United States international Sam Mewis - who had scored four across all competitions in her previous four games - kept up her fine run of form, putting away a header late on.Â
Despite the positive result, Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor said: "There are still a lot of things we can improve on, both as individuals and as a team.Â
"We always work hard on the training ground. Consistency is one thing we can do better at, and some of our build-up play, some of our pressing could improve."
An interesting four-way relegation dogfight between Bristol City, West Ham, Aston Villa and Birmingham beckons in the last few months of the season, with Vixens manager Matt Beard already looking ahead towards his team's next crunch clash.Â
He added: "It's a really massive game against Tottenham on Sunday.Â
"We just need that consistency of performance. We have been together for ten weeks now and the mindset is shifting. As long as we remain positive, I still believe we can stay in this division."Â
Aston Villa, meanwhile, recorded a third successive league defeat at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion, falling 2-0 at home.Â
Aileen Whelan pounced after Villa goalkeeper Lisa Weiss spilled the ball inside the six-yard box to net the first, and Inessa Kaagman's second-half penalty sealed a fourth successive win for the in-form Seagulls.Â
Arsenal host Manchester United on Friday evening in a fixture that may decide who can creep into the third-place spot and secure qualification for next season's UEFA Women's Champions League.Â
United will be bolstered by the return of former Gunner Lauren James alongside Scottish defender Kirsty Smith, both of whom have been out of action through injury recently.
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