With three league games remaining, Chelsea FC Women remain top of the Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League following a 6-0 victory against Birmingham City at Kingsmeadow.
Sam Kerr continued her fine scoring form with a first-half hat-trick, which gave the Blues a commanding 3-0 lead at the interval.
Kerr smashed home her opener from a tight angle on 25 minutes, after Birmingham goalkeeper Hannah Hampton palmed an effort from Erin Cuthbert into the path of the striker.
The Australian then netted twice in first-half stoppage time to complete her treble and give Chelsea a 3-0 lead at the break. A header from Pernille Harder crashed against the bar and Kerr was first to react and nodded home from close-range to take her tally to 22 goals.
Moments later and Kerr added another to her collection as she leaped highest to head home a pinpoint free-kick from Cuthbert.
Kirby added a fourth on the hour mark, when the striker provided a first-time finish after being found unmarked in the box by Bethany England.
Our No.14 then turned provider when she cut the ball back for Guro Reiten to add a fifth for the Blues before Kirby grabbed her second of the afternoon in additional time when she ran at the Birmingham backline before curling an effort into the bottom corner.
Several Blues will now go on international duty before returning ahead of our FA Cup fixture with London City Lionesses in two weeks.
Emma Hayes made two changes to the side that started our Champions League second leg 3-0 triumph against Wolfsburg, with Niamh Charles and Drew Spence coming into the starting 11 to face Birmingham City.
Charles, who was suspended for Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final win, lined up alongside Millie Bright, skipper Magda Eriksson and Jonna Andersson in a back four ahead of Ann-Katrin Berger.
Spence was handed her first league start of the season, joining Melanie Leupolz in a midfield two sitting in front of the Chelsea backline.
Kirby, Pernille Harder and Cuthbert lined up as an attacking midfield three behind lone striker Kerr.
On-loan Blues Jamie-Lee Napier and Emily Murphy were named amongst the substitutes for our visitors, Birmingham City.
Chelsea will have expected Birmingham to make it difficult and although Hayes's side began with a high intensity, the visitors restricted the Blues to very few sights of goal during the opening quarter.
Our first effort towards goal came around the 15-minute mark as Andersson sent a fierce strike inches over the crossbar following a promising attack from the Blues and moments later Cuthbert cut in from the left side but the midfielder drilled an effort high and wide of the target.
Birmingham had done well to limit Chelsea to long-range efforts but with 25 minutes on the clock, Cuthbert was involved again and this time her effort was on target and Birmingham goalkeeper Hampton could only palm the Scots low drive into the path of Kerr.
Kerr reacted first to the rebound and fired home from a tight angle to break the deadlock and score her 21st goal of the season.
Chelsea continued to look sharp on the ball following the opener with Leupolz and Harder drawing saves out of Hampton, while Claudia Walker, against the run of play, wasted a good opportunity to put her side level when she sent an effort wide having gone through on goal after the Blues failed to clear our lines.
Birmingham were made to rue that missed chance as the Blues doubled our advantage on the brink of half-time and once again both Cuthbert and Kerr were involved.
Harder headed a Cuthbert cross onto the woodwork and Kerr was on hand to react first to nod home from close-range and the Australian was on the scoresheet again seconds later.
Cuthbert had a hand in Kerr’s other two goals and the Scot delivered a dangerous curling free kick and Kerr arrived at the back post to head past Hampton and complete a first-half hat-trick with the last action of the opening half.
Hayes made three changes at the break with Blundell, Reiten and England coming on for Andersson, Cuthbert and Harder and it didn’t take long for the substitutes to get involved in the action.
Blundell got in down the left side before whipping a ball in with pace, but England couldn’t direct her header on target and in another attack, Reiten was found in space on the left side of the box but her effort stung the palms of Hampton.
England was then involved again and this time it was her good work down the right that create a four for Chelsea just after the hour mark.
The substitute got in down the right and cut the ball back for Kirby and our No.14 provided a first-time finish into the bottom corner to take her tally to 20 goals for the season.
Kirby then turned provider when she played a quick one-two with Charles before cutting the ball back for Reiten to stroke the ball home on 73 minutes.
Kirby scored Chelsea’s sixth and final goal in stoppage time when the England international raced towards the Birmingham defence before cutting inside and curling an effort into the bottom corner to complete an impressive display from the Blues.
With today’s victory, Chelsea sit top of the table two points ahead of second-placed Manchester City with three league fixtures left to play.
Several Blues will now report for international duty and will return ahead of the start of our FA Cup campaign which will begin with the visit of London City Lionesses to Kingsmeadow in two weeks.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Berger; Charles, Bright, Eriksson (C), Andersson (Blundell 46); Leupolz (Fleming 57), Spence, Cuthbert (Reiten 46); Harder (England 46), Kirby; Kerr (Carter 63)
Unused subs Musovic, Telford, Ingle
Scorers Kerr 25, 45+1, 45+3 Kirby 61, 90 Reiten 73
Booked Spence 79
Birmingham City (4-5-1) Hampton; Mayling, Brougham, Lawley, Mace, Scott (Holloway 80), Green (Whipp 62), Murray, Littlejohn (Napier 62), Walker (Murphy 74), Kelly
Unused subs Whitehouse, Sarri, Logan
Booked Littlejohn 45+2
Referee Elizabeth Simms