Chelsea thrash Man City 4-0 to pile pressure on Arsenal at the top of the WSL
By Paul Lagan at The Academy Stadium
Man City 0 v Chelsea 4
Chelsea humbled Manchester City in their own back yard 4-0 as the west Londoners showed the clinical finishing that has seen them pile the pressure on leaders Arsenal.
The Blues are now a point behind the Gooners, after a dominant display in Manchester.
City can and will claim they are without star players, but the Blues showed no mercy, winning at the Academy Stadium, in the league for the first time, to follow up their FA Cup semi-final win a couple of weeks’ ago.
Chelsea needed no help to win this game, but when the first goal after 65 seconds was gifted to them, they gleefully accepted.
From then on it was a case of how many and when.
Goals from Jessie Fleming, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, and a header from skipper Magda Eriksson saw off the home side in emphatic fashion.
It was a disaster for City after just one minute and five seconds, when third choice goalkeeper Karima Taieb, miss controlled the ball at the edge of her penalty area. Live wire Jessie Fleming nipped in, took one touch before slotting the ball home into an empty net.
But the home side should have equalised on nine minutes when a perfect ball bisected the Chelsea rearguard. Millie Bright desperately tried to chase down Caroline Weir. But she couldn’t and Weir got her left-footed shot away. Thankfully for the west Londoners, goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger managed to flick out her left left and defect the ball away from goal.
The game settled down after this - to be something more expected from two supposed heavyweights of the WSL.
City took the greater share of possession, while Chelsea were keen to be tight at the back and quick on the break.
On 25 minutes, after Berger kicked the ball long, she appeared to tweak a muscle. But after a couple of minutes treatment, she continued playing.
City looks dangerous whenever they approached the Chelsea final third and on set pieces.
On 31 minutes, Alex Greenwood saw a free header from a corner hurtle towards goal. But it went straight into Berger’s midriff. The German goalkeeper thwarted Lauren Hemp two minutes later as City edged closer to an equaliser.
City were unlucky not to have got a penalty five minutes from the end of the half when Hemp was upended by Berger close to the byline.
But both were injured in the challenge with each other with referee Amy Fearn opting to give a goal kick rather than a spot kick.
Deep into six minutes of added time, City were mugged by a confident and clinical counter-attack to double the visitors’ lead.
The ball was picked up by Ji on the left. She raced 40 yards before chipping over a deep left-footer. Guro Reiten did supremely well to knock the ball back to in-running Sam Kerr who tucked the ball home from close range
Emma Hayes decided to make a half-time change, bringing on Sophie Ingle for fellow midfielder Ji.
Chelsea could have made it 3-0 a minute after the restart. Jill Scott gave the ball away to Kerr who raced clear he shot was blocked and Reiten, following up also saw her shot cleared.
But a sensational goal did come on 52 minutes when ran Kirby produced a peach of a chip that ended up in the back of the net. But it was the set-up play that saw the ball pinged across the goal twice before the England star finished it off in style.
Number four came three minutes later when a regulation corner by Cuthbert sailed over Taieb’s hands and onto the head of Magda Eriksson who nodded home from close range.
Beth England entered the fray on 67 minutes, Kerr made way.
Berger was replaced with Zecira Musovic with 14 minutes of the game left.
Reiten who was the subject of a heady challenge was also replaced by veteran Drew Spence. Niamh Charles took Kirby’s place.
The changes did little for the game other than run the time out and Chelsea duly finished off the game with a fine victory, and three vital league points.
Teams: Chelsea, Berger, Bright, Carter, Leupolz, Ji, Reiten, Kirby, Eriksson, Fleming, Kerr, Cuthbert
Subs: Musovic, Ingle, England, Mjelde, James, Charles, Spence, Andersson, Fox
Man City, Taieb, Stokes, Greenwood, Scott Stanway, Angeldahl, Hemp, Park, White, Weir, Walsh
Subs: Pilling, Coombs, Beckie, Raso, Losada, Mace, Kennedy
Referee: Amy Fearn