The hosts nearly carved out an early chance with a quick passing move involving Guro Reiten, Jessie Fleming and Pernille Harder. Having worked the ball to the edge of the box, Harder might have unleashed a shot if it wasn’t for the quick intervention of Maria Thorisdottir, who closed down the attacker leaving Sophie Baggaley to gather the ball easily.
At the other end a Katie Zelem free-kick initially caused a bit of trouble for the Blues defence and following a panicked clearance United recycled possession. Vilde Boe Risa then hooked the ball over her head from inside the area and picked out Martha Thomas, who could only head straight at the keeper.
The Reds enjoyed a strong few minutes following that chance, but couldn’t find a breakthrough. Harder then led a charging break before firing over from the edge of the 18-yard-box.
With 25 minutes on the clock, another counterattack saw Harder racing away having latched onto a ball over the top. Running at Aoife Mannion, Harder then showed expert composure to round her and slot the ball past United stopper Baggaley for 1-0.
Five minutes later Emma Hayes’ side had doubled their lead. Play had been stopped for a head injury to Zelem with Chelsea in possession high up the field, but the uncontested drop ball to restart left Niamh Charles free to fire a ball across goal. After a deflected shot the ball dropped unkindly for the Reds, allowing Fleming to score from close range.
Not allowing themselves to be sunk by letting in a second, United had one back within a minute when a deft Jackie Groenen backheel played Boe Risa in-behind and the Norwegian slotted a curling effort in from a tight angle to reduce the deficit to one.
Sadly another Chelsea goal would come before the interval. Reiten slid a low cross into the path of the fast-arriving Jessica Carter who duly converted.