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Guro Reiten’s four-goal salvo helped Chelsea turn up the heat on Women’s Super League leaders Manchester City with a 8-0 thrashing of Bristol City on a dramatic day when the title race was blown open.

A midweek loss for defending champions Chelsea at Liverpool put Man City in the driving seat, with Blues boss Emma Hayes saying she thought her side’s challenge was over, but the pacesetters were stunned by Arsenal in a 2-1 home defeat on Sunday.

Victory for Gareth Taylor’s team over Arsenal would have moved them on to 55 points and meant they needed only a point from their final-day fixture at Aston Villa on May 18 to claim the league championship.

However, Lauren Hemp’s 17th-minute opener was cancelled out by a late double from Gunners’ substitute Stina Blackstenius in a remarkable turnaround.

It ended City’s run of 14 successive league wins, and Chelsea took full advantage later in the day by pummelling already-relegated Bristol City in manager Hayes’ final fixture at Kingsmeadow to bring the prospect of goal difference settling the league winner back into play.

Chelsea’s emphatic win means they now trail Man City by three points with a game in hand at Tottenham to come on May 15. But, perhaps crucially, the Blues’ goal difference is now one ahead of their title rivals on +46 going into the last fortnight of the season.

City – without WSL leading scorer Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw through injury  -looked on course to put one hand on the trophy when Hemp rifled home after Arsenal had failed to deal with a ball into the area.

Hemp celebrated with retiring captain Steph Houghton, but Taylor elected against bringing on the former England skipper for a farewell appearance at City’s home stadium.

Opposite number Jonas Eidevall did turn to his bench with Arsenal trailing and substitute Blackstenius equalised with 89 minutes on the clock when she poked home after pinball in the City area.

Worse was to follow for the leaders as three minutes later Kim Little curled in for Blackstenius to head into the bottom corner to silence the home crowd and leave City’s title hopes in the balance.

All eyes were then on Chelsea and Reiten opened her account with a sixth-minute penalty before Sjoeke Nusken forced home a second midway through the first half.

Chelsea v Bristol City – Barclays Women’s Super League – Kingsmeadow
Chelsea put eight past relegated Bristol City (Adam Davy/PA)

Aggie Beever-Jones made it 3-0 in the 52nd minute with a slick finish before Reiten rifled home another.

It was five when Reiten smashed in at the near post for her hat-trick after 70 minutes, which sparked three goals in seven minutes as the Norway forward grabbed her fourth not long after Niamh Charles had poked in at the back post.

Beever-Jones produced the cherry on top when she stooped low to nod in Reiten’s cross with two minutes left as Chelsea marked Hayes’ final home match in style.

Liverpool claimed a decisive victory in the top-four battle after Jenna Clark’s first-half header downed Manchester United.

United, who will play in the FA Cup final in a week, occupied fourth spot on goal difference before kick-off, but they suffered a 1-0 loss to drop below their rivals in the table.

Clark nodded in the only goal of the game at the back post from a fine Marie-Therese Hobinger cross, ensuring Liverpool marked their final appearance at Prenton Park with a win.

West Ham and Leicester played out a 1-1 draw in the battle at the bottom between two teams already safe from relegation, Sophie Howard cancelling out Riko Ueki’s opener for the hosts.