Womens Match Report: Chelsea 2-0 Leicester City

Late goals from Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby sealed all three points for the Blues against Leicester City at Kingsmeadow.

Chelsea controlled the opening 45 at Kingsmeadow and could have twice took an early lead with both chances falling to Niamh Charles.

The No.21 first ran onto a ball from Drew Spence but fired wide of the target before Charles sent a header inches past the far post.

Jessie Fleming saw a long-range strike saved by Leicester City goalkeeper Kirstie Levell and Millie Bright struck an effort on the edge of the box just wide of the target.

The Blues continued to dominate following the half-time break and created a host of opportunities.

A header from Magda Eriksson was cleared off the line and Foxes keeper Levell denied both Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder with efforts from inside the box.

After an onslaught of Chelsea attacks, the Blues broke the deadlock with eight minutes remaining.

Fleming picked out Harder in the box and the Chelsea forward produced a low finish into the bottom corner to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.

Kirby then added a second in stoppage time as she went through on goal and slotted past Levell to double our advantage and seal the three points.

Attention now turns to the Champions League with a trip to face Juventus coming up for the Blues on Wednesday.

Ahead of kick-off, Chelsea linked arms in a show of solidarity with players in the NWSL.

Emma Hayes made eight changes to the side that started the Blues 3-3 draw against Wolfsburg on Wednesday.

Zecira Musovic lined up between the sticks behind a back three of Aniek Nouwen, who was handed her first league start for the Blues, Millie Bright and skipper Eriksson.

Charles and Jonna Andersson occupied the right and left midfield positions, while Sophie Ingle and Spence lined up in central midfield.

Bethany England, who netted in midweek against Wolfsburg, led the Blues attack with Kirby and Fleming completing the front three.

Ann-Katrin Berger, Jess Carter, Melanie Leupolz, Ji So-Yun, Guro Reiten, Kerr, Cuthbert, Harder and Jorja Fox were all named on the bench.

Jessie Fleming picked up the Player of the Match award after an impressive performance

Ahead of kick-off at Kingsmeadow, the Blues formed a circle and linked arms in a show of solidarity with players in the NWSL.

Kirby was back in the starting XI after coming off the bench in Wednesday’s draw with Wolfsburg and the Blues forward went close early on with an effort which curled inches wide of the far post.

Great build up play from the Blues nearly led to an opener on 10 minutes as Spence played Charles in on the right side of the box but she couldn’t direct her effort on target. Moments later and Charles sent a header agonisingly wide of the post.

The Blues were beginning to get a foothold at Kingsmeadow, and Hayes’s side produced our first effort on target shortly before the 15-minute mark.

Fleming’s long-range strike was heading for the bottom corner before Leicester City goalkeeper Kirstie Levell got a strong hand to the Canadian’s effort.

Fleming then turned provider as she produced a defence-splitting pass to play Kirby in on goal, but the No.14 was unable to get a shot away due to a last-ditch tackle from Leicester defender Ashleigh Plumptre.

From a corner, the ball dropped to Bright on the edge of the box but her powerful strike went the wrong side of the post and the Blues went into half-time on level terms with the Foxes.

Substitute Harder broke the deadlock at Kingsmeadow after 82 minutes

Hayes made a double substitute at the break, with England and Spence making way for Harder and Kerr.

The Blues nearly made an immediate impact following the interval as Andersson delivered a free-kick in the box but an unmarked Bright missed the target with her header.

Chelsea came even closer moments later and this time it was a header from Eriksson, but Leicester forward Jess Sigsworth cleared the ball of the line to deny the Blues.

Kerr rose highest to meet a cross from Kirby, but the Australians close-range header was superbly saved by Foxes goalkeeper Levell.

The Blues were then denied by Levell once again as Reiten pulled the ball back to Harder in the box, but her low effort was saved by the legs of Levell.

Harder curled an effort just over the bar before Cuthbert found some space on the edge of the box but the midfielder fired her strike off target.

Chelsea finally broke the deadlock with eight minutes remaining.

Fleming, who had been impressive throughout, picked Harder out with a low ball into the box and the Denmark captain provided a clinical finish into the bottom corner.

After waiting 82 minutes for the opener, Chelsea added a second in stoppage time. Kirby raced onto a flick on from Kerr and the No.14 took one touch and slotted past Levell to seal the three points for the Blues.

Kirby adds a second in stoppage time

Next up for Chelsea is a trip to Italy to face Juventus in our second Champions League group stage fixture on Wednesday.

Chelsea (3-4-3) Musovic; Bright, Nouwen, Eriksson (Cuthbert 73); Charles, Ingle (Ji 65), Spence (Harder 46), Andersson (Reiten 65); Kirby, England (Kerr 46), Fleming
Unused subs Berger, Carter, Leupolz, Cuthbert, Harder, Fox
Scorers Harder 82; Kirby 90+4

Leicester City (4-4-2) Level; Brougham, McManus, Plumptre, Purfield; O’Brien (de Graaf 70), Tierney, Pike, Cain; Flint (Bailey-Gayle), Sigsworth (Howard 89)
Unused Subs Lambourne, Zajmi, Brown, Robinson, Harris
Booked Purfield 31

Referee Lisa Benn
Crowd 2,716

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