Chelsea cemented top spot in the Women’s Super League on the last day before the international break with a 5-0 win at Bristol City. The result was an important sighter ahead of next month’s Conti Cup final, which sees the teams meet at Watford’s ground, and has improved the Blues’ goal difference… a factor which
Chelsea cemented top spot in the Women’s Super League on the last day before the international break with a 5-0 win at Bristol City.
The result was an important sighter ahead of next month’s Conti Cup final, which sees the teams meet at Watford’s ground, and has improved the Blues’ goal difference… a factor which could yet be crucial.
In a major psychological boost ahead of their attempt to retain the League Cup title, the Blues turned over a City side now benefiting from the stewardship of Emma Hayes’ predecessor at Chelsea, Matt Beard.
Though brave in defence, and doing their best to tightly mark the visitors, City went 1-0 down after 13 minutes.
Maren Mjelde lofted in Chelsea’s first corner of the game, and Fran Kirby deftly flicked the ball past Sophie Baggaley.
It was 2-0 after 37 minutes as Sophie Ingle teed up Pernille Harder to unleash a thunderbolt. Barely three minutes later, Kirby added her second, scooping the ball in after Baggaley had palmed away Sam Kerr’s earlier effort.
With goal difference in mind, Hayes urged her team on at half-time and told them not to ease up.
As Kerr buzzed down the left and Kirby raced down the right, Chelsea used their wings well.
Poor Ebony Salmon, the loanee centre forward for Bristol who got a late-replacement England call-up at the weekend, couldn’t get a sniff as the Blues dominated possession and attack.
As the Twerton Park pitch began cutting up in heavy second-half rain, Beth England crossed in the 53rd minute and Kerr headed home for 4-0.
England got her own reward four minutes later. Harder flighted the ball over from the right, and England grubbed in the mud with Baggaley and poked in for 5-0.
The conditions worsened, and the playing surface was more like a ploughed field than the smooth sward of Kingsmeadow, but Chelsea stuck to their task as Erin Cuthbert, Guro Reiten, Jessie Fleming and Drew Spence came on as fresh legs for, respectively Kirby, Ji So-Yun, Harder and Ingle.
But 5-0 it remained at the final whistle.
The three-week domestic gap that now follows is a chance to recharge for some, though most of Chelsea’s squad are internationals and are being called up for duty.
Covid is a factor, however, and countries that want players back are also having to wrestle with quarantine rules that could impact selection.