Soccer-Russo double helps Arsenal to superb 4-1 WSL win over Chelsea

Soccer Football - Women's Super League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - December 10, 2023 Arsenal's Alessia Russo celebrates after scoring their fourth goal from the penalty spot with teammates Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

LONDON (Reuters) -Arsenal striker Alessia Russo scored twice as her side hammered Women's Super League leaders Chelsea 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday in front of a league-record crowd of 59,042, blowing the title race wide open in the process.

The win put Arsenal level on 22 points with Chelsea, who suffered their first defeat of the season but remain top due to their superior goal difference, with Manchester City third on 19 points after a 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Arsenal forward Beth Mead opened the scoring in the eighth minute, finishing off a dogged attack by keeping a cool head to cut back inside Niamh Charles and fire into the roof of the net with her weaker left foot.

The lead lasted all of five minutes as Chelsea winger Johanna Rytting Kaneryd netted a similar effort to Mead's, shifting inside Steph Catley to create space and scoring with a low shot that flew in at the near post.

Rytting Kaneryd's Sweden international team mate Amanda Ilestedt headed Arsenal back into the lead in the 36th minute, and Russo added a quick-fire third goal less than two minutes later as Chelsea's defence floundered.

Blues coach Emma Hayes made a triple change at the break but it made little difference as they continued to struggle to find any fluency in attack. Any hope of a comeback was snuffed out when Ann-Katrin Berger conceded a penalty for a foul on Russo, who scored from the spot in the 74th minute.

Chelsea striker Sam Kerr had a chance to reduce the deficit deep into stoppage time but her header from Fran Kirby's cross lacked power as Arsenal comfortably held on to win.

Liverpool came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at home to a rapidly-improving Bristol City, while West Ham United's woes continued as they lost 1-0 at home to Everton to remain on the bottom of the 12-team table.

There was late drama on the south coast as Elisabeth Terland netted two goals in the final eight minutes of normal time to ensure that Brighton & Hove Albion shared the spoils with Leicester City in a 2-2 stalemate.

In the late kickoff, French forward Melvine Malard scored twice and set up another goal for Ella Toone as Manchester United won 4-0 away to Tottenham Hotspur to move up to fourth place on 18 points.

(Reporting by Philip O'ConnorEditing by Christian Radnedge and Clare Fallon)

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