Ladies report: Chelsea 6-0 Aston Villa

Chelsea Ladies followed the men's team in defeating Aston Villa this weekend, booking a spot in the FA Women's Cup semi-finals in the process.

The Blues took until three minutes before the interval to open the scoring, but once Drew Spence's sublime opener went in the floodgates opened after the break. Ji So-Yun was on target three times in the second half to take home the match ball, while there were also goals for Kirby and Aluko in a commanding performance from Emma Hayes' side.

It was a much-changed line-up from our 4-1 win over Doncaster Rovers Belles in the WSL last time out. Becky Spencer came in for Hedvig Lindahl to make her debut following her signing from Birmingham City, while Jade Bailey made her first competitive start at left-back in place of Claire Rafferty. Millie Bright moved back into defence to partner captain Niamh Fahey, with Hannah Blundell at right-back.

In midfield, Drew Spence returned to play alongside Ji So-Yun at the base of the midfield, and in front of them was the trio of Gemma Davison, back in the side to replace Katie Chapman, Karen Carney and Bethany England. Fran Kirby replaced Eniola Aluko in attack.

Until Spence broke the deadlock it was a largely frustrating first half for the Blues, one of missed opportunities after superb build-up play. As early as the fifth minute we had hit the woodwork, Ji weaving her magic inside the box to trick her way past three defender before smashing her shot against the outside of the post.

That was one of three efforts to hit the woodwork during the opening 45 minutes. It was Carney's turn next as she fired in a powerful shot from outside the box which was deflected up and onto the crossbar, and 15 minutes later Ji also found the bar after getting up well at the back stick to direct her header over Jess Myers in the Villa goal.

In between times we tested the keeper on numerous occasions, albeit without ever calling on her to make a quality save; England, Davison and Carney among those to hit their shots straight at Myers. Bailey, meanwhile, almost marked her debut with a superb effort, having spun on the ball in the box and flashed an effort just wide of the far post.

Spencer was enjoying an altogether more quiet half at the other end, making her first save with five minutes to go before the break, but even that came from the most speculative efforts from all of 35 yards.

It looked as though the teams would go into half-time locked at 0-0 until a moment of magic from Spence put us in front. There looked to be little on when Kirby clipped a ball into the midfielder on the edge of the box, but a sublime touch knocked it around the defender and with just Myers to beat she smashed home an unstoppable effort into the top corner. It was some way to open her goalscoring account for the new season.

Chelsea were unchanged at the break and we continued to dominate, with Kirby twice testing Myers in the opening five minutes of the break. The first effort was a fierce strike from a tight angle in the box which the keeper parried clear and the second came from close range after Myers had done well to palm out a long-range strike from Bright.

The Blues went even closer to a second through Carney, who was twice denied in the space of as many minutes. The first was a spectacular low save from Myers to prevent her low finish creeping in and then with the goalkeeper stranded it was up to Jade Richards to head off the line.

Villa began to commit more players in the attacking third, which left more space for our forward players to exploit and the second goal duly arrived just past the hour mark. A trademark run by Davison was followed by a perfectly weighted lofted through-ball to Kirby, who took a touch and unselfishly squared for Ji to tap in.

With a two-goal advantage, Hayes opted to change things up with the introduction of Chapman and Aluko, with England and Carney making way, and within a few minutes our lead was extended further by the lively Kirby. Davison was instrumental once again, jinking her way down the right-hand side before squaring to the England forward for a clinical low finish.

The Blues continued to look the more likely side to score again, as both Ji and Kirby shot just wide of the far post with curling efforts and the lively Aluko clipping an effort straight at Myers. The fourth goal eventually arrived in the closing minutes of the game and was swiftly followed by five and six.

First, Ji scored with a lovely touch through the goalkeeper's legs after being sent clear by Spence. Substitute Aluko made it five with a clipped finish that looked to be more cross than shot, but the end result was all that counted. Moments later, Ji completed her hat-trick with her best goal of the afternoon, smashing home with her left foot past a dejected Myers.

The late goals put added gloss on a fine performance in which Hayes' side comfortably put their name into the draw for the semi-finals. The prospect of a return trip to Wembley is now just one game away...

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Spencer; Blundell, Fahey (Flaherty 72), Bright, Bailey; Spence, Ji; Davison, Carney (Chapman 64), England (Aluko 64); Kirby
Unused subs: Kitching, Russo
Goals: Spence 42, Ji 62, 86, 90+2, Kirby 67, Aluko 90

Aston Villa: Myers, Crackle, Richards, N’Dow, George, Moran (c), Robinson, West (Toussaint h/t), Merrick, Mayling, Wilkinson
Unused subs: Beattie, Bryant, Welsh, Baptiste

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