Chelsea are one win away from being crowned WSL champions for a third successive season after the Blues battled to a narrow 1-0 win over Birmingham.

Emma Hayes’ side struggled against a tenacious, relegation-threatened Birmingham, needing a second half Pernille Harder penalty to see them past the WSL’s bottom side.

Chelsea exploded out of the blocks and twice came close to taking an early lead; Harder flashed a golden opportunity narrowly wide, and Sam Kerr rattled the bar inside the opening 10 minutes.

It was seemingly going to be a matter of when, not if Chelsea broke the deadlock, but Birmingham grew into the game and caused the visitors problems of their own, particularly from set pieces, and it finished goalless at the break.

Birmingham continued to frustrate Chelsea and looked like they could hang on to claim a point and provide another twist in the WSL title race. But in the 70th minute a Niamh Charles’ header struck the arm of Lisa Robertson, and referee Emily Heaslip pointed to the spot. Harder cooly dispatched the subsequent spot kick.

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