England nets twice as Blues cruise into FA Cup semi-final with 5-0 rout of Birmingham
Niamh Charles scores Chelsea’s fourth goal Picture: Paul Lagan
By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium
Chelsea 5 v Birmingham City 0
1,869 in attendance
Beth England hit a brace to put Birmingham City to the sword as Chelsea cruised into the FA Cup semi-final with a thumping 5-0 demolition job of the Midlanders.
This was always going to be a victory for the cup holders, and the only thing in doubt would be the score.
Birmingham came to Kingsmeadow to defend deep and basically hope for the best.
Their game-plan worked initially but once the first goal went it, it was a case of holding back the tide of goals.they did their best, but the scoreline reflected the sheer gulf in class between the sides.
Chelsea had hopped to make an early breakthrough and then cruise through the match ahead of Wednesday’s WSL match against Spurs where a win would put them into the top spot.
But it didn’t come, and Birmingham had the first chance - Louise Quinn’s long-range effort just dipped over A n-Katrina Berger’s crossbar.
This woke the Blues up from their slumber and Mille Bright tried something similar. Her effort however was much closer without breaching the Brum goal.
Ji should have scored when she lunged to a England ball on 14 minutes. But the South Korean slide her effort wide of the open goal.
Beth England thought she had broken the duck but her header inched over Marie Hourihan’s crossbar.
Bright then thumped a venomous left footer from 25 yards out that smashed off the corner of the crossbar and goalkeeper’s left post.
After almost total possession, Chelsea finally put the ball in the back of the net as the clock turned to 45 minutes.
A regulation free kick was fed to Jonna Andersson who headed across goal where Drew Spence continued its path and up popped skipper Magda Eriksson who headed home from close range.
There was no change by either side at half-time. There was no change to the game either as Chelsea pushed forward for goal number two.
Eventually it came on 55 minutes, which following a nice period of incisive passing, the ball fell to the edge of the Birmingham penalty area, and in-running Drew Spence was on hand to produce a firm, right-footed drive that went wide of Hourihan and into the back of her net.
England won’t have an easier goal given to her. As yet another passing move cut the visitors defence apart. Spence picked up the ball and attempted to round Hourihan. The goalkeeper got a touch to the ball, but England simply tapped home the loose ball and it rolled into the empty net on 64 minutes.
Number four wasn’t far behind and it came following a corner. The ball fell to Niamh Charles and her looping header was too accurate and it floated over Hourihan’s desperate lunge and into the net.
Emma Hayes justifiably felt the game was over and so gave extra minutes to a couple of players coming back from injuries, Lauren James and Maren Mjelde, while Alsu Abdullina got more time to acclimatise to the England game.
Off went Fleming, Charles, and Ji.
England got her second on 72 minutes and it was a fine effort - a sweet left-footed drive from the edge of the Birmingham penalty area.
England missed her hat-trick on 87 minutes when her downward header smashed against the woodwork.
Teams: Chelsea, Berger, Bright, Ingle, Carter, England, Ji, Eriksson, Fleming, Charles, Spence, Andersson
Subs, Musovic, Nouwen, Reiten, James, Kerr, Cuthbert, Abdullina
Birmingham, Hourihan, Quinn, Sarri, Robertson, Murray, Smith, Finn, `Quinn, Ryan-Doyle, Lawley, Cowie
Subs: Ramsey, Jane’s, Jenner, Wildgoose, Cole, Simpkins
Referee: Lauren Impey