Chelsea hammer Man Utd 6-1 as Kerr nabs a brace and Harder produces sensational solo effort
By Paul Lagan at Leigh Sports Village
2,197 in attendance
Man Utd 1 v Chelsea 5
Chelsea thrashed Manchester United in a display of clinical finishing that overwhelmed the home side by six goals to one in the WSL.
A brace by Sam Kerr, an opener by Fran Kirby, a sensational solo effort by Pernille Harder, and a goal apiece from substitutes Drew Spence and Jessie Fleming saw off the limited resistance of previously unbeaten United.
Chelsea started the game in a whirlwind, Sam Kerr forced Mary Earps into a fine save, but within seconds, on two minutes, Chelsea snatched the ball off ex-Blue Hannah Blundell on the right, Kerr raced into the penalty area with the ball before feeding in-running Fran Kirby who had the simplest of tasks to slide the ball home to open the scoring for the visitors.
United responded to the shock well. They reverted to their game plan of possession, but Chelsea simple shut up shop, creating a five-player defence with the wingback tucking in.
But when the home side did get close, as when Kirsty Hanson’s sharp turn and shot from the edge of the Chelsea penalty area, they did look dangerous.
In this instance, she scuffed her left-footer wide of Ann-Katrin Berger’s left upright.
But the visitors doubled their lead in spectacular fashion on 24 minutes - picking the ball up on the half way line and just kept on running. The Denmark superstar gave a clean pair of heels to the chasing ex-Blue Maria Thorisdottir before clipping a beautiful left footer over the advancing Earps to plant the ball in the back of the net.
Kerr added to the score sheet five minutes before the break.
Seconds earlier she drove a low right-footer inches wide. But then she latched onto a pass by Kirby to tuck home with her left foot to make it 3-0.
Just as Chelsea scored within a couple of minutes of starting, United did the same in the second half.
They pushed forward, opened up the Chelsea defence on the left before substitute Alessio Russo latched onto a Ella Toone pass - before snatching at a right-footer that took a wicked deflection off Millie Bright to make it 3-1
But the three-goal margin was restored on 51 minutes when Kerr got her brace. She was on the spot to get hold of a brilliant right wing cross by Kirby. The Australian tucked home at the second attempt.
There was a sense that Kerr was offside at the point when Kirby released the ball. But with no VAR, the judgement was firmly with the assistant referee and in Kerr’s favour.
Emma Hayes decided to close the game out - bringing on more defensive-minded Jonna Andersson for right-wingback Niamh Charles.
United continued to play their impressive passing game, and were unlucky when Russo smashed a venomous right-footer off Berger’s crossbar on 67 minutes.
Kirby, Reiten and Harder were replaced by Jessie Fleming, Beth England and Jorja Fox.
Substitute Drew Spence finished off a brilliant day for the visitors when she tucked home a powerful right-footers on followed by fellow substitute Jessie Fleming slotted home the sixth deep into added time.
Teams: Chelsea” Berger, Bright, Ingle, Carter, Leupolz, Reiten, Kirby, Eriksson, Kerr, Charles, Harder
Subs: Musovic, Telford, Nouwen, England, Ji, Fleming, Spence, Andersson, Fox
Man Utd: Earps, Thorisdottir, Mannion, Blundell, Toome, Zelem Galton, Groenen, Batlle, Hanson, Staniforth
Subs: Baggaley, Harris, Boe Risa, Ferreira Fuso, Russo, Jones
Referee: Kirsty Dowle