Ladies report: Chelsea 5 Sunderland 1
news Sun 26 Mar 2017
The Blues recovered from the concession of an early penalty to book a spot in the Women's FA Cup semi-finals thanks to a brace apiece by Ramona Bachmann and Hannah Blundell.
Lucy Staniforth put the visitors in front from the spot and it took until five minutes before half-time for the Chelsea response, which was emphatic. Two wonderfully taken goals from Bachmann put us ahead going into the interval, and the game was effectively over as a contest by the hour mark as Blundell netted twice in quick succession. Drew Spence's last-minute goal made made it 5-1.
Emma Hayes named an unchanged starting XI after last weekend's 7-0 thrashing of Doncaster Rovers Belles and the first quarter of an hour of the match passed by with little goalmouth action as the Blues looked to suss out a Sunderland side packing plenty of bodies behind the ball.
Long-range efforts from Katie Chapman failed to trouble the goalkeeper, but Ji So-Yun had the best shot of the early exchanges as she linked up well with Bachmann before firing a low left-footed strike inches wide of the target.
Then, out of nowhere, Sunderland were gifted the lead with their first foray into the Chelsea box. Claire Rafferty was adjudged to have committed a foul, allowing Staniforth to confidently fire home from the spot. Although Hedvig Lindahl guessed correctly, the shot was struck firmly into the bottom corner.
The response from the Blues took a while to get going, with Ji threatening twice from long range but, tellingly, there were few signs of cutting through a Sunderland rearguard which had set its stall out to defend the one-goal lead.
With 10 minutes left in the half, however, it was as if someone flicked a switch – suddenly, there was an intensity to our attacking play and the clever movement and neat interplay which had been seen a week earlier was evident once again.
Although Claire Rafferty failed to turn in a cross at the back stick, the Blues didn't have to wait long for an equaliser. Bachmann was the scorer, but there were plenty of contributions in the build-up. After Millie Bright switched play with a typical pin-point pass, Hannah Blundell knocked the ball in to Crystal Dunn, who turned the ball around the corner with a neat touch to send in the Swiss international to finish with aplomb with the outside of her right foot.
Five minutes later we were in the lead, with Bachmann on target once again. It was another slick move as she played a one-two with Karen Carney before passing the ball into the far corner of the net.
After upping the intensity considerably at the end of the half, the Blues carried on where we left off after the interval and within five minutes of the restart our lead was doubled by Blundell. Again, the build-up was superb and Rafferty overlapped down the left to whip over a cross to the back post, where her opposite wing-back was on hand to turn the ball home on the half-volley.
Despite taking a command of the game, there was no letting up by the attack as we went in search of a fourth goal, and after a couple of near misses from Dunn and Bright it was the right boot of Blundell which provided it. Having not scored for over two years, she made it two in less than 10 minutes, exchanging passes with Carney before tucking a low finish past the keeper.
Both sides made two changes apiece in the five minutes which followed the goal, with Beth England and Spence the two players to come on for Chelsea, but there was no disruption to our attacking flow and both Maren Mjelde and Bachmann missed good chances to extend our advantage. The latter, having sold an outrageous dummy to her marker, should have completed her hat-trick, and she made way immediately after for Erin Cuthbert.
The Scottish midfielder twice went close to scoring her first competitive goal for the Blues, while fellow sub Spence was also denied by Preuss. The latter did find the back of the net on the stroke of full-time, though, emphatically heading home Carney's cross to put the exclamation mark on a fine victory which puts us into the last four of the FA Cup.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Lindahl; Mjelde, Bailey, Bright; Blundell, Chapman (c), Carney, Rafferty (England 58); Ji (Spence 64), Bachmann (Cuthbert 73); Dunn
Unused subs Kitching, Cooper
Scorers Bachmann 39, 44, Blundell 49, 58, Spence 90
Sunderland Preuss, Bannon, Sharp, Williams, Holmes, Brown, Staniforth, Hill, Bruinenberg (Joice 62), Roche Lambert 62), Ramshaw (Galloway 85)
Unused subs Stonehouse, Watt
Scorer Staniforth (pen) 18