Champions Chelsea issued a statement of intent to their title rivals as they ruthlessly ended Manchester United’s unbeaten start to the season.
Fran Kirby opened the scoring with her 50th Women’s Super League goal inside the first two minutes.
Pernille Harder doubled the Blues’ lead with a superb solo effort before Sam Kerr tapped home a third.
Alessia Russo’s deflected strike gave United hope, but Kerr, Drew Spence and Jessie Fleming added Chelsea goals.
Having been stunned by Arsenal in the season opener, Chelsea expertly negotiated this difficult away assignment with a devastating blend of aggressive pressing, precise passing and clinical finishing.
For United, it was a reminder of the level they must reach in order to challenge Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City after starting their campaign with comprehensive wins over Reading and Leicester under new boss Marc Skinner.
- Chelsea ‘miles better than last year’, says Hayes
- Relive Chelsea’s win over Man Utd
Chelsea were nearly gifted a goal after 15 seconds when United keeper Mary Earps overhit her pass to Maria Thorisdottir, allowing Sam Kerr to shoot from the edge of the box.
And while Earps managed to keep the Australian’s low strike out with a strong left hand, there was nothing she could do to stop Kirby from capitalising on a sloppy United error.
Attempting to play out from the back, Hannah Blundell ran into trouble and passed straight to Kerr, who squared the ball for Kirby to tap home.
United managed to settle after Chelsea’s fast start, but soon found themselves with a mountain to climb when Harder demonstrated her pace and power to double the away side’s advantage.
Pouncing on a heavy touch from Jackie Groenen, the Dane stormed up the pitch, breezed past Thorisdottir and calmly lifted the ball over the onrushing Earps.
Kerr nearly struck a brilliant third five minutes before the break after being teed up by Kirby, but her first-time effort whistled just the wrong side of Earps’ right-hand post.
From the goal-kick, however, United captain Hannah Zelem conceded possession and, in a roles reversal from the first goal, Kirby found Kerr, who slotted Chelsea into a three-goal lead.
United boss Skinner introduced Russo at the break and the England forward’s impact was instant, latching on to Ella Toone’s pass and beating Chelsea keeper Ann-Katrin Berger thanks to a heavy deflection off Millie Bright. Russo also rattled the crossbar with a rasping drive in an eye-catching display.
The home side’s hopes of a revival were crushed three minutes after Russo’s goal, however, when Kerr struck for the second time, although the striker appeared to have strayed offside before she converted Kirby’s cross at the second attempt.
Spence and Fleming both struck late as Emma Hayes’ substitutes put further gloss on the scoreline and cap a dominant display by the champions.
Man Utd Women
- 14GroenenSubstituted forLaddat 66′minutes
- 37StaniforthSubstituted forRussoat 45′minutes
- 11GaltonSubstituted forJonesat 82′minutes
- 21CharlesSubstituted forAnderssonat 58′minutes
- 11ReitenSubstituted forFoxat 79′minutes
- 14KirbySubstituted forEnglandat 78′minutes
- 20KerrSubstituted forSpenceat 84′minutes
- 23HarderSubstituted forFlemingat 78′minutes
- Kirsty Dowle
Match ends, Manchester United Women 1, Chelsea Women 6.
Second Half ends, Manchester United Women 1, Chelsea Women 6.
Goal! Manchester United Women 1, Chelsea Women 6. Jessie Fleming (Chelsea Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner following a fast break.
Attempt saved. Drew Spence (Chelsea Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jessie Fleming.
Corner, Manchester United Women. Conceded by Drew Spence.
Attempt saved. Ella Toone (Manchester United Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Kirsty Hanson.
Goal! Manchester United Women 1, Chelsea Women 5. Drew Spence (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Bethany England.
Alessia Russo (Manchester United Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Sophie Ingle (Chelsea Women).
Foul by Katie Zelem (Manchester United Women).
Bethany England (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Drew Spence replaces Sam Kerr.
Substitution, Manchester United Women. Carrie Jones replaces Leah Galton.
Foul by Ella Toone (Manchester United Women).
Jonna Andersson (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Katie Zelem (Manchester United Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Bethany England (Chelsea Women).
Attempt missed. Hayley Ladd (Manchester United Women) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Alessia Russo.
Corner, Manchester United Women. Conceded by Jorja Fox.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Jorja Fox replaces Guro Reiten.