• By Paul Lagan at St Andrew’s Stadium

Kirby smashes two as Chelsea thrash Brum 4-0 to set up Halloween FA cup semi against Man City


By Paul Lagan at St Andrew’s Stadium

Vitality FA Cup Quarter-Final Birmingham City 0 v Chelsea 4


They say you wait ages for a number 11 bus then three come at once. The footballing equivalent was played out at Birmingham tonight as Chelsea finally broke the back of the dogged home defence before the west Londoners snatched three goals in quick succession to progress to a semi-final showdown on Halloween away to Manchester City.

The fact that Pernille Harder headed home a fourth goal deep into added time from a Jonna Andersson cross simply confirmed the Londoners’ overall superiority.

There were seven changes from Sunday’s 6-1 drubbing away to Manchester United and it showed.

While Birmingham languish at the foot of the WSL, the old adage that a stoic defence and a hope of a counter-attack can reap rewards springs to mind as the opening 45 minutes was memorable for one thing – a missed penalty by Beth England.

The opening exchanges saw all the action in the home side’s half but with no end product from the west Londoners – the final pass, just going too long or wayward.

Birmingham, by contrast knew they were in for a long night, defended deep, were quite content to have a few nibbles on .

On 17 minutes, Erin Cuthbert showed all her class and awareness, taking one-twos off Jorja Fox, before being tripped by Veatriki Sarri on 18 minutes.

Up stepped Beth England who skied her right-footer over the crossbar.

It was a let-off for the home side, playing at St Andrew’s Stadium this season.

Drew Spence produced a thrilling right-footed thumper, from 20 yards out on 24 minutes that Marie’s Hourihan did well to tip away for a corner.

Dutch centre-back Aniek Nouwen, making her first start for the WSL champions, perhaps showed the creeping frustration at not being able to pierce the Birmingham goal – her 30 yard right-footer, On 37 minutes is still probably on it’s way to the airport.

Chelsea coach Emma Hayes reasoning that goals were needed, brought on Sam Kerr at half-time.

the Australian replaced midfielder Sophie Ingle.

Kerr had a great chance on 55 minutes but her first time shot from an excellent Jonna Andersson left byline cutback went straight to Hourihan who snaffled the ball from in-running England.

Hayes was planning to bring on more players – but before she did, on 61 minutes, a deep ball on the right was perfect for Kerr, who hammered home a bullet header from close range to finally give the Londoners the goal they deserved.

Niamh Charles, Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder were then introduced, Spence, Fox, and England left the pitch on 66 minutes.

Harder’s first touch was to he’d the ball inches over the crossbar from a Kerr byline clip.

Goal number two came with 20 minutes left an it was Kirby who scored.

Some excellent possession play, with Nouwen providing the pivot saw Hourihan drop a long ball at the feet of Kirby who toed home.

Two minutes later and it was Kirby again, this time she had more to do – just.

Again, some sublime passing cut the home Blues apart and Kirby took one touch before ramming home a low, fierce right footer to make it 3-0.

deep into the fourth minute of added time,

The semi-final which will be played on October 31 will see Chelsea travel up north again – this time to Manchester City.

Teams: Chelsea, Musovic, Nouwen, Bright, Ingle, Carter, England, Fleming, Cuthbert, Spence, Andersson, Fox

Sub: Leupolz, Reiten, Eriksson, Kirby, Kerr, Charles, Harder, Telford

Birmingham City: Hourihan, Finn, Quinn, Lawley, Holloway, Whipp, Robertson, Pinnock, Whelan, Sarri, Ryan-Doyle

Referee: Jane Simms