Chelsea Women are through to the FA Cup quarter-finals after a 3-0 victory against Everton at Kingsmeadow.
Goals from Guro Reiten, Sam Kerr and Drew Spence helped the Blues secure a win against the Toffees on Thursday evening to book our place in the last eight of the competition.
Both sides had chances in the early stages of this fifth-round clash, with Bethany England hitting the woodwork minutes before Reiten broke the deadlock on 29 minutes.
Kerr got in behind the Everton backline and squared the ball to Reiten, who took one touch out of her feet before directing a low effort into the bottom corner.
Everton goalkeeper Sandy MacIver later denied Reiten and then Cuthbert from close range, before England saw a header ruled out for offside to keep it 1-0 at the break.
Millie Bright hit the crossbar with an effort from 25-yards less than five minutes into the second half before MacIver twice denied Kerr, but the Australian would finally get the better of the Everton goalkeeper with less than 15 minutes remaining.
The ball broke to the striker in the box and Kerr rifled the ball into the top corner to double our advantage and minutes later it was three for the Blues.
Substitute Spence headed home a third with four minutes on the clock to complete a hard-fought victory for the Blues and seal our spot in the last eight of the competition.
Chelsea will now take a break before returning for pre-season in July with our FA Cup quarter-final to take place on Wednesday 29 September.
Hayes made five changes to the side that started the Champions League final with Cuthbert, Jessie Fleming, Jonna Andersson, England and Reiten all coming into the starting 11 to face the Toffees.
There was also a change to the formation, with the Blues set up as a back three with Millie Bright, Jess Carter and skipper Magda Eriksson ahead of goalkeeper Berger.
Melanie Leupolz and Fleming were deployed in central midfield, with Andersson and Cuthbert on the flanks and Reiten, England and Kerr as a front three.
It was a fairly even start at Kingsmeadow with both sides enjoying early spells of possession, but it was the visitors who had the first real chance inside the opening 10 minutes.
Valerie Gauvin got across her marker and provided a deft touch at the front post, but Berger reacted quickly to deny the strikers effort with her legs.
Shortly after and this time it was Chelsea’s forward who had a sight at goal. Reiten picked Kerr out from a corner but the Australian could only direct her header straight down the throat of Everton goalkeeper Sandy MacIver.
The pair then combined down the left and it really should have been the opening goal for Chelsea. Reiten found Kerr with a quick throw-in and the striker got to the byline before pulling the ball back to the Norwegian but she couldn’t generate any power behind her right-footed effort.
At this point, it was end-to-end and minutes after Reiten’s opportunity, the visitors had a chance of their own, but Berger was on hand to palm away a powerful strike from Scotland international Claire Emslie.
There was nothing Everton goalkeeper MacIver could do minutes later as England picked up the ball from deep before unleashing a strike from 30-yards, but the No.9’s effort crashed off the woodwork.
It wasn’t to matter seconds later as Chelsea found the breakthrough and it was the link up play between Kerr and Reiten that punished our opponents.
Kerr got in behind and unselfishly squared the ball to Reiten who took one touch before firing a low drive into the bottom corner to give the Blues a 1-0 lead just before the half hour mark.
Everton keeper MacIver pulled off a double save to deny Cuthbert and Reiten, before England saw a header ruled out for offside and Chelsea will have felt slightly unlucky going into the break with just the one goal lead.
Chelsea were immediately on the front foot following the half-time break and had two opportunities within the first five minutes to extend our lead.
Bright hit the crossbar with a thunderous strike from 25-yards out before Kerr was put through on goal by Reiten, but Everton goalkeeper MacIver was quick off her line to deny the Australian.
Just after the hour mark and the Blues striker was denied once again by the Everton goalkeeper. This time it was Cuthbert who delivered an inch-perfect ball to get the striker in but her low effort was saved by the legs of MacIver.
There were no denying Kerr moments later as she doubled Chelsea’s advantage with just under 15 minutes remaining.
The ball broke to the forward in the box and Kerr made no mistake with her finish as she smashed home from close range to give the Blues a two-goal cushion.
With Chelsea now two goals to the good, Hayes made some changes and it wasn’t long before substitute Spence had an impact.
Goalscorer Kerr turned provider as she dug out a cross to the back post and Spence was there to head home and seal our spot in the last eight of the FA Cup.
Today’s victory brings our 2020/2021 campaign to a close and what an incredible season it’s been for Chelsea.
It started with lifting the FA Women’s Community Shield at Wembley back in August and Chelsea then secured the Continental League Cup for a second consecutive year in March.
Earlier this month, the Blues were crowned back-to-back Champions of the Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League and reached the Champions League final for the first time in our history.
With today’s win, Chelsea can still add a fifth trophy to the cabinet when the road to the FA Cup final resumes next season.
Hayes’s squad will now take a break before returning for pre-season training in July.
Chelsea (3-4-3) Berger; Bright, Carter, Eriksson; Cuthbert (Charles 72), Leupolz (Spence 78), Fleming (Ingle 72), Andersson; England, Reiten (Harder 78), Kerr
Unused subs Musovic, Telford, Blundell, Ji, Fox
Scorers Reiten 29 Kerr 77 Spence 86
Everton (3-4-3) MacIver; Sevecke, Finnigan, George; Wold (Boye-Hlorkah 90), Scott, Christiansen, Pattinson; Gauvin (Graham 84), Raso, Emslie (Sorensen 67)
Unused subs Korpela, Lehmann, Magill, Stringer, Clemaron, Clinton
Referee Kirsty Dowle