A hat-trick apiece for Fran Kirby and Bethany England secured a thumping win for the Blues over Bristol City at Kingsmeadow.
A crowd of 1,821 were in attendance for our biggest WSL victory of the season, with supporters in attendance treated to a free Chelsea scarf and a select group of Junior Blues enjoying a penalty shoot-out masterclass from former skipper Katie Chapman at half-time.
The best entertainment of all came in the form of a dominant Blues performance, which got off to the perfect start courtesy of two goals inside the opening five minutes. Kirby scored the first with a typical predatory finish, which was swiftly followed by a tidy effort by England. A wonderful curler by the former made it 3-0 at half-time.
There was more of the same after the break, with England converting a cross from Ramona Bachmann and then Kirby completed her hat-trick from the penalty spot. Not to be outdone, our No15 followed suit with a thumping header. Just as in our home game against Bristol City last term, which was our first-ever match at Kingsmeadow, we recorded a 6-0 victory over the Vixens.
Emma Hayes made four changes to the side which won so impressively in the FA Cup against Arsenal on Sunday, replacing Ann-Katrin Berger, Millie Bright, Drew Spence and Karen Carney with Carly Telford, Deanna Cooper, Bachmann and Kirby. Minus our captain and vice-captain, the armband went to Magda Eriksson for the first time as a Chelsea player, although she had plenty of experience in the role at former club Linkopings.
Any latecomers to Kingsmeadow missed out on a barnstorming start to this contest, which saw us storm out of the blocks and into a two-goal lead before five minutes had elapsed – exactly what Hayes would have hoped for, having talked up the importance of an early goal on Sunday.
It was simple but effective football for our opener, as Erin Cuthbert took on her full-back down the right and squared for Fran Kirby to side-foot home. Having been frustrated throughout our goalless draw with the Vixens back in September, it was a welcome sight to see our No14 wheeling away in celebration.
Then, just three minutes later, our lead was doubled and it was again created by Cuthbert down the right-hand side. This time it was all about the delivery rather than fashioning a yard of space for herself, as she sent a superb low ball into the path of England to clip a delightful finish into the far corner. Goal number 15 of the season for the Blues No15, and brought up in some style, too.
Despite the concession of the two early goals, Bristol certainly weren't disheartened and they responded by creating a couple of half-chances of their own, one of which was smashed into the side-netting by Ella Rutherford. However, the bulk of the action was taking place down the other end of the pitch and both Bachmann and England fired over when well placed.
We didn't have to wait long for our third, though, and this was the pick of the first-half goals. Kirby brought down a pass from Sophie Ingle with the minimum of fuss and she didn't need a second invitation to shift it onto her right foot and curl a beautiful effort into the far corner.
Super Fran came close to completing her hat-trick either side of the interval, firing over the bar when well placed and then forcing a fine save from Sophie Baggaley with a left-footed effort from inside the box. The goalkeeper was left with no chance soon after that, as we made it 4-0 through yet another England goal. Our top scorer this term made it four in as many days, although this owed plenty to the sumptuous outside-of-the-boot cross played by Bachmann to put it on a plate for her.
With the game well and truly put to bed, Hayes was afforded the luxury of giving both starting full-backs a rest, as Hannah Blundell and Jonna Andersson made way for Jess Carter and Ali Riley. There was also an outing for Adelina Engman, who came on in place of Ji So-Yun.
Despite the changes, there was no let up in intensity from the Blues and our fifth goal duly arrived with a little under 10 minutes remaining. Engman was heavily involved, running onto a slide-rule pass, but she was tugged back as she prepared to pull the trigger. The referee had no hesitation pointing the spot, Kirby did the rest from 12 yards
Not to be outdone, England matched her strike partner blow for blow and she too brought up her treble. The finish highlighted her determination, as she both out-jumped and outmuscled a far bigger opponent to meet a cross from Carter with her head, leaving Baggaley with no chance. It was a fine way to end a brilliant performance by the Blues.
Those fans who enjoyed their first taste of Chelsea Women's action at Kingsmeadow will now have to wait a month for their next chance to see the Blues in KT1. An international break, which includes England playing at the SheBelieves Cup, is then followed by back-to-back away matches – versus Liverpool and Durham – before we host Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final on Thursday 21 March.
Chelsea (4-4-2) Telford; Blundell (Carter 69), Cooper, Eriksson (c), Andersson (Riley 69); Cuthbert, Ingle, Ji (Engman 74), Bachmann; Kirby, England
Unused subs Berger, Asante, Spence, Carney
Scorers Kirby 2, 33, 82, England 5, 59, 88
Bristol City Baggaley, Dykess (c), Evans (Wooley 86), Brown, Kerkdijk, Pattinson, Humphrey, Kempppi (Ayane 52), Rutherford, Harrison (Wilson 78), Biesmans
Unused subs Cumings, Payne
Referee Tom Bishop