Blues win WSL title for fourth time in a row as they relegate Reading in 0-3 victory
By Paul Lagan at the Select Car Leasing Stadium
Reading 0 v Chelsea 3
Chelsea needed to win to take the WSL title for the fourth time in a row, could they do it against bottom of the league Reading?
To be honest, this was a training day for the Blues who cruised past their already deflated opposition without getting out of first gear.
First half strikes from Sam Kerr and Guro Reiten put the seal on the expected win with the third from Kerr who tapped in with three minutes left on the clock.
Skipper Magda Eriksson and Pernille Harder played their last game for the Blues - both awarded the opportunity to take a standing ovation as they were substituted deep into the second half.
Manchester United were hoping for a shock result at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, while they needed to win at Liverpool.
Only one of those was likely and so UnIted finished two points behind the serial winners.
Chelsea relied on Kerr for most of the season, operating often as the only striker and she pulled the side through some dark moments and was justifiably given the Football Writers’ Player of the Year award.
He brace against Reading was typical of the sensational contribution.
It was a messy start to the game. Chelsea had hoped to make an early breakthrough, but the brownie points went to the home side, who with two banks of five and four were destructive in midfield, and hopeful to catch the west Londoners on the break.
With a lone striker, Reading’s tactics were clear, and it worked for the most part.
Lauren James tried a shot from the edge of the Reading penalty area, that sailed high and wide of Grace Moloney’s goal on 11 minutes.
Sam Kerr blazed the ball over the goal on 14 minutes from close range, as Chelsea cut the home side apart.
It was a terrible miss from the Australian and would have calmed any nerves tingling in the side on the all-gold kit.
Maloney then produced a sensational save to thwart Erin Cuthbert on 17 minutes when she tipped the midfielder’s goal-bound shot into her crossbar.
But a minute later the goal finally came and it was from the bonce of Kerr, who latched onto Guro Reiten's byline cross and steered the ball into the back of the net.
Justine Vanhaevermaet had a glorious chance to shock a leveller on 20 minutes when her bullet-header went inches wide of Ann-Karin Berger’s goal.
If that was a wake-up call to the Blues, then it was almost a catastrophic one.
Moloney manged to get down to her right to tip a James header away from her near post as the Blues, already camped out in Reading’s half looked to add number two on 40 minutes.
And the second goal came seconds later from the left boot of Reiten who slotted home from a tight angle.
There were no changes by either side at half time.
But the travel of direction was firmly into the final third of the home side.
Hayes replaced Pernille Harder who is leaving the club on 71 minutes.
She got a standing ovation from the large Chelsea contingent in the stand opposite and she waved back.
On came Jess Carter, Melanie Leupolz and Jessie Fleming off went Sophie Ingle, Erin Cuthbert and for the final time Magda Eriksson who also got a standing ovation.
As the clock ticked to the end, and with Reading humbled, up popped Kerr who knocked the ball against the post but followed up to tap it in.
Teams: Reading: Maloney, Mukandi, Evans, Rose, Eikeland, Harries, Cooper, Hendrix, Moore, Mayikith, Vanhaevermaet
Subs: Poulter, Wellings, Wade, Caldwell, Alexander, Perry, Primmer, Troelsgaard
Chelsea: Berger, Ingle, James, Reiten, Perisset, Eriksson, Mjelde, Kerr, Charles, Cuthbert, Harder
Subs: Musovic, Carter, Leupolz, Svitkova, Fleming, Kaneryd, Buchanan, Abdullina, Cankovic