Ladies report: Birmingham 0 Chelsea 4
news Sun 28 Aug 2016
Four goals in the opening 30 minutes set Chelsea on our way to an impressive victory at the home of one of the WSL's meanest defences.
Two former Birmingham City players were instrumental in the victory as Eniola Aluko's fine low strike and Karen Carney's close-range header gave us a perfect start. Gemma Davison made it 3-0 with a clinical finish and Ji So-Yun further added to our advantage when she scored at the second attempt.
Over a month on from our last competitive fixture, Emma Hayes made two changes to the starting XI which took to the field at the Automated Technology Stadium.
Becky Spencer and the back three remained unchanged, but there was a return at right wing-back for Hannah Blundell in place of Ana Borges. In midfield, Katie Chapman was back to replace Jade Bailey and Gemma Davison returned to the forward line at the expense of Bethany England.
Only three minutes had elapsed when Aluko scored against her former club, just as she had done in the corresponding fixture last month. Ji will be credited with the assist, but the goal was all about the brilliance of the Blues No9 as she advanced with the ball before unleashing a fierce low strike past Berger.
An early goal was exactly what Hayes would have been hoping for against a side known for its dogged defence, but to score twice in the opening five minutes was surely beyond her wildest dreams.
But that's exactly what happened as Claire Rafferty broke away down the left-hand side before sending a pin-point cross onto the head of Carney. Two chances, two goals – what a start by the Blues.
The scorer of our second almost made it three just a few minutes later as she scampered clear and attempted a first-time lob, only for the keeper to comfortably keep it out, and it was clear she was enjoying playing in a more advanced role alongside Aluko and Davison.
Two of our attacking triumvirate then combined for our third goal of the afternoon and once again it was an excellent finish. Chapman played the ball to Carney, whose touch sent Davison clean through on goal to smash a low strike into the far corner.
Three quickly became four as Carney's low cross found Aluko in space in the box; although her attempted shot was scuffed, Ji was in the perfect position to turn the ball home at the second attempt. A side who had conceded only six goals in their first 12 league games of the season had now seen their rearguard breached for the fourth time in the opening half-hour.
Unsurprisingly, Birmingham made a couple of changes at the half-time break as both Peplow and Linnett were brought on in place of Hegerberg and Stringer. Though their performance was much improved, there was still little to trouble Spencer between the sticks for the Blues.
Indeed, the best chances were continuing to come at the other end of the field and Rafferty would have fancied herself to turn home Aluko's through-ball. The finish was a little wayward, and that proved to be her last action of the game as she and Ji made way for Borges and Bailey just past the hour mark.
Carney was inches away from the second goal her performance deserved as she smashed a vicious strike against the crossbar from outside the area and then Davison narrowly missed the target after bursting clear on goal. That proved to be the last meaningful action of a superb display by the Blues. Next up for Emma Hayes' side are Notts County, who visit Wheatsheaf Park on Thursday.
Birmingham City: Berger, Carter, Harrop, Ayisi, Hegerberg (Peplow h/t), Stringer (Linnett h/t), Ewers (Windell 60), Lawley, Wellings, Westwood (c), Mannion
Unused subs: Baggaley, Haines, Johnson, Davies
Chelsea (3-4-3): Spencer; Fahey, Flaherty, Bright; Blundell, Chapman (c), Ji (Bailey 63), C Rafferty (Borges 65); Davison, Carney, Aluko (England 78)
Unused subs: Lindahl, Spence, Borges
Goals: Aluko 3, Carney 5, Davison 23, Ji 27