Women's World Cup Lionesses return to record crowds

Women's Super League: Best goals from the weekend

Record crowds turned out to watch Women's Super League sides as stars of the World Cup returned to domestic action with their clubs.

Of the 23 England Lionesses that finished third overall in Canada, 17 made league appearances on Sunday.

A new club-record crowd of 2,102 saw Manchester City beat Birmingham City 1-0 at the Academy Stadium.

The average attendance of Sunday's WSL 1 games was 78% higher than the average for the first half of the 2015 season.

The 2,061 who saw Liverpool win 3-1 at Arsenal was more than two-and-a-half times the crowd for the Gunners' last home game.

Meanwhile, more than 1,200 fans watched Chelsea beat Bristol Academy 4-1 at Staines Town, while nearly 1,000 people were at the Hetton Centre to see Sunderland snatch a late win over Notts County.

Increased crowds across the board
In the first half of the season, the average WSL 1 attendance was 892.
By contrast, at the four WSL 1 matches on Sunday, 12 July, there was an average crowd of 1,588.

The results saw Chelsea extend their lead at the top of WSL 1 to five points, while Manchester City and Liverpool's wins mean there are now just four points separating second and sixth.

South Korea forward Ji So-Yun was among the goalscorers for Chelsea, who have won five of their seven league games so far.

England midfielder Fara Williams' long-range strike opened the scoring for Liverpool, as they secured their first away points of the season.

Lionesses forward Toni Duggan gave Man City their second league win of 2015, while Birmingham remain winless so far, along with bottom-club Bristol.

Beth Mead's stoppage-time strike moved Sunderland up to third - continuing the Lady Black Cats' impressive start to life in WSL 1 after their promotion last year.

Steph Houghton (right)
England captain Steph Houghton was among the returning World Cup stars in action
Ellen White (left), Laura Bassett, Alex Greenwood, Siobhan Chamberlain and Carly Telford (right)
Five England players were presented with Bouquets ahead of Sunderland v Notts County