LONDON – Canadian international Jessie Fleming celebrated her first silverware with Chelsea on Saturday in a 2-0 win over Manchester City in the Community Shield, marking the return of English women’s soccer after a six-month, pandemic-enforced absence.
The 22-year-old midfielder from London, Ont., made her competitive debut for the Blues, coming off the bench in stoppage time.
Fellow Canadian Janine Beckie entered in the 26th minute for Man City, replacing the injured Lauren Hemp. Beckie scored soon after, on a setup by Chloe Kelly, but her tap-in was negated by offside.
Fleming, who signed with Chelsea in late July, has won 77 caps for Canada. The 26-year-old Beckie, born in Colorado to parents from Saskatchewan, joined Manchester City in August 2018 from Sky Blue FC. She has 31 goals in 70 appearances for Canada.
Fellow Canadian Kadeisha Buchanan and Lyon take the field Sunday in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final against Germany’s Wolfsburg in San Sebastian, Spain.
The French powerhouse has won the European club crown the last four years, with Buchanan, a 24-year-old centre back from Brampton, Ont., who has 101 Canada caps, involved in the last three. Lyon is in its ninth final in 11 years, looking for its seventh European title.
The Community Shield was contested in the women’s game for the first time in 12 years. It was part of a double-header at Wembley, with the curtain-raiser to the men’s season between Premier League champion Liverpool and FA Cup winner Arsenal taking place later on Saturday.
Millie Bright’s dipping strike helped clinch the win for Chelsea. The centre back produced a moment of quality in the 66th minute from outside the penalty area after striker Sam Kerr squandered four chances for the Super League champions.
The breakthrough came four minutes after City had Jill Scott sent off when she received a second booking for a sliding challenge on Ji So-Yun.
Erin Cuthbert powered the second goal into the roof of the net in the second minute of stoppage time at Wembley Stadium before empty stands.
While the men’s season was able to resume in June after a 100-day shutdown, the women’s league was abandoned with Chelsea declared champions on a points-per-game calculation ahead of City.
Chelsea also won the League Cup on Feb. 29 _ the last day of competitive women’s football in England before the coronavirus outbreak shut down sports.
The new WSL season is due to start next weekend and the incomplete 2019-20 FA Cup is still due to be completed with both City and Chelsea among the quarterfinalists.
-With files from The Associated Press