Kerr snatches hat-trick to secure Euro win for Blues in 4-1 victory over hard-working Paris
By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 4 v Paris FC 1
Sam Kerr hit a vital hat-trick to give Chelsea their first win in this season's Champions League with substitute Sophie Ingle slotting home a fine volley deep into added time to secure a 4-1 win against hard-working Paris FC.
But this was a wake-up call for the Blues who drew their opening group match away to Real Madrid 2-2.
The paltry 3,200 crowd at Stamford Bridge saw a less than convincing 90 minutes from the home side, but Kerr's natural instinctive finishing, aided by some sublime set-up play by Lauren James and Sjoeke Nusken, was the crucial difference, and head coach Emma Hayes will be hoping the Australian will stay fit and well and scoring, as she is the sole reason why the Blues are where they currently sit – top of the WSL and well-placed in Europe.
Chelsea were terrible in the opening 15 minutes and the first goal-bound effort fell to the visitors on 12 minutes when Mathilde Bourdieu had a snap shot saved by Ann-Katrin Berger.
Incredibly the player of the season so far Lauren James missed a simple effort on 20 minutes when she skied the ball into the Shed.
It was indicative of the slow, sluggish start from the Blues.
But the forward class of the home side told on 31 minutes, when James, on the left, curled in the perfect right-footer that fed in-running Sam Kerr who reacted quickest to the situation. She remained onside and clipped the ball in to the back of the net from six yards out.
Johanna Rytting Kaneryd should have doubled the score but her shot was deflected away for a corner by Chiamaka Nnadozie.
This only masked what was still a poor performing west Londoners side and justice was done seven minutes later.
Set pieces are a part of the game and the French side equalised in the simplest way on 38 minutes. A regulation deep corner was met by the head of Thea Greboval and the ball looped over Berger and defender Jess Carter who could only head it further in to the net.
In an attempt to increase the class, tempo of the game, and give Kerr more support, head coach Emma Hayes introduced Fran Kirby at half-time, replacing ineffectual Jessie Fleming.
Greboval cut through the Chelsea defence and but for Berger, would have scored two minutes after the restart.
Luck was with the Blues still and they took advantage seconds later by retaking the lead when Rytting Kaneryd curled the ball to Kerr, who, while looking offside, once again slotted home from close range to restore their one-goal lead.
Kerr was at it again on 55 minutes. Taking advantage of a route one kick out by Berger, the Australian shrugged off the weak challenge of Teninsoun Sissoko and took a leap of faith with a looping strike.
Goalkeeper Nnadozie was all at sea with the inventive effort and could only help the ball nestle into the back of the net to give her a hat-trick and a 3-1 lead.
Hayes then opted to bring in experienced midfielder Ingle, replacing Sjoeke Nusken on 59 minutes.
Erin Cuthbert tried a left-footed long-ranger which on another day would have turned into a worldie – tonight it just zipped over the crossbar.
Striker Mia Fishel replaced Kerr while Eve Perisset took James slot – both with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Berger was called into action as Chelsea allowed Paris to move forward, and she had to tip the ball over her crossbar as Julie Dufour nipped in front of Carter and strike a fine effort. That deserved more but Berger decided she wasn't in the generous mood.
With a league game to come on Sunday against Leicester City, Hayes brought on very experienced defender Maren Mjelde for Kadeisha Buchanan on 83 minutes.
There was no action to speak if until deep into the five minutes of added time, when a regulation set-piece corner from Perisset found Ingle who cooly slotted home the fourth.
Teams; Chelsea, Berger, Nusken, Carter, James, Lawrence, Fleming, Rytting Kaneryd, Kerr, Charles, Cuthbert, Buchanan
Subs: Musovic, Hampton, Fishel, Nouwen, Ingle, Kirby, Perisset, Mjelde, Beever-Jones
Paris FC: Nnadozie, Bogaert, Korosec, Bourdieu, Mateo, Dufour, Thiney, Greboval, Sissoko, Soyer
Subs: Marques, Flagellat, Ouid Hocine, Hunter, Fleury, Le Mousl, N'Dongala, Ribadeira, Abdullina, Bussy,