Marc Skinner admitted Manchester United couldn’t take Chelsea’s counter-punches as their unbeaten Super League record went up in smoke in a 6-1 loss.
United won their first two games of the season against Leicester and Reading but were distant second best against the champions.
They were behind through Fran Kirby’s 50th Super League goal after two minutes and things went downhill from their as Skinner suffered a first defeat in the hotseat.
“It's moments against big teams,” said the United boss.
“I felt that we were exploited on the counter-attack but this is only the third game that I get to see us against a real top opponent.
“Let's not take anything away from the fact that Chelsea were runners up in the Champions League last year so they have the ability.
“If you leave the spaces that they're going to do that and then they freshen up with internationals.”
Errors proved costly for Skinner’s side with Mary Earps nearly handing Chelsea the opening goal on a plate with a sloppy pass 15 seconds after the first whistle.
United were undone by the brilliance of Chelsea’s forward line with Earps powerless to prevent Harder’s sublime second.
There was an uncharacteristic lapse from skipper Hannah Zelem, who conceded possession from a goal-kick and enabled Kirby to square to Kerr for the third goal.
Skinner’s substitution to introduced Alessia Russo at half-time paid immediate dividends and she scored within three minutes of coming on, converting an Ella Toone pass for 3-1.
But Kerr struck again moments later with Drew Spence and Jessie Fleming adding late goals.
Next up for Skinner and his charges. is a trip to Birmingham City, the club where the manager made his name in more than a decade of service.
Skinner feels his side will have learned plenty of lessons from their tangle with Emma Hayes’s leading team.
“I think Chelsea were well better than us in the final third in this game, that's part of what they've recruited over a number of years,” he said.
“I think what it can be is that you have a lens through which you look at the game.
“For us, the result is the worst part, but actually, the things that we will learn from this, and only time will tell you that, are going to be huge for us.”
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