Sam Kerr scored four as Chelsea Women produced a sensational 8-0 victory over Vllaznia in the UEFA Women’s Champions League to go top of Group A on Wednesday evening.
Kerr gave the Blues a deserved lead just 10 minutes into proceedings, smashing the ball home from a wonderful reverse pass by Harder. We cemented our lead with two quick-fire goals in the final 10 minutes of the half as Kerr doubled her tally, before Pernille Harder added a third before the break.
Chelsea continued to dominate and Kerr netted her hat-trick just before the hour mark, heading home Guro Reiten’s inviting corner. The Australian was unplayable and drove home her fourth of the evening on the hour mark. Harder netted her brace and our sixth with 20 minutes left, before substitute Katerina Svitkova bagged a seventh with her first goal for the club.
With two minutes remaining, there was still time for the Blues to add to our tally. Harder claimed her hat-trick with a close-range tap in which put the gloss on an emphatic display as we charged emphatically to top spot in Group A.
Denise Reddy and Paul Green made seven changes to the side who began the 2-0 victory at Brighton & Hove Albion last time out. Eve Perisset, Jessie Fleming, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Niamh Charles were the four players to keep their place in the starting line-up.
Jelena Cankovic and Melanie Leupolz were the expected absentees. Cankovic continues to recover from injury while Leupolz is on maternity leave. Meanwhile, there was a welcome addition to the matchday squad as Fran Kirby returned from illness and was named among the substitutes.
It was a 4-3-3 formation for the Blues with Zecira Musovic between the sticks while Kadeisha Buchanan and captain Magdalena Eriksson formed the centre back pairing. Pernille Harder was deployed behind a fierce looking attack of Guro Reiten, Kerr and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd.
Chelsea got the game underway on a pleasantly mild evening at Kingsmeadow, with an impressive travelling support from Albania making their voices heard in the away section. We began the game on the front foot, passing the ball at pace and with confidence, looking to stamp our authority on the match in the early stages.
With just three minutes played, we conjured an early chance. Perisset’s floated corner was met by Charles who nodded the ball downwards, leading to a scramble where Charles managed to make the second contact, which was beaten away by Kaylin Conner Williams-Mosier in the Vllaznia goal. Moments later, the visiting goalkeeper was alert once again to deny Kaneryd from a tight angle.
Our persistence and dominance were rewarded with 10 minutes played. Harder guided a wonderfully weighted reverse pass into the path of Kerr, who buried the ball expertly beyond Williams-Mosier to give the Blues a deserved lead. We were playing with freedom and flair and the Chelsea faithful were loving the football they were seeing.
As the half hour mark approached, we continued to control possession while our link-up and transitional play were pleasing on the eye. Perisset took the game’s first booking for stopping a promising Vllaznia counter attack down the right. Harder turned provider for Kerr once more who was off balance and could not direct an effort on goal, but the offside flag was raised.
Reiten and Charles were next to combine sweetly down the left side, playing some neat interchanging football resulting in a corner when Reiten’s effort was deflected wide. The Blues failed to make anything of the set-piece and a second goal would be most welcome with 10 minutes of the first half to play.
On 36 minutes, our second goal arrived and it was Kerr at the double. Harder was instrumental in the build-up once again, threading a delightful pass down the left for Reiten. The Norwegian played a perfectly weighted first-time ball into the box for Kerr to guide home from close range to give the Blues a two-goal cushion.
There was an appetite for goals raging through the Chelsea ranks and we netted a third just two minutes after Kerr doubled our advantage. Reiten turned provider once again with a carbon copy of her first assist, putting the ball on a plate for Harder who made no mistake. Just before the break, Kerr was denied a hat-trick by the offside flag as we took a three-goal lead into the interval.
Vllaznia made a double change at the break with Aleksandra Popovic and Maria Bashka making way for Rrezona Ramadani and Esi Lufo. However, the Blues continued to probe in search of further goals. Jessie Fleming curled an effort wide of the mark after further encouraging build-up play from Chelsea, who were looking to pick-up from where they left off in the first half.
Reiten was looking for a hat-trick of assists and came close when she produced another pin-point cross into the path of Kaneryd, but the Swede could not get the ball under her spell and guided her first-time strike wide of the mark. There were further goals in this game for Chelsea with chances aplenty from the off.
Our fourth goal arrived just shy of the hour mark when Reiten’s in-swinging corner was headed home from close range by Kerr for her hat-trick. The Australian was unstoppable and netted her fourth goal of the night on the hour, stroking the ball home for our fifth before bringing out the trademark backflip to send the Blues fans into raptures.
A triple-change was in the offing for the Blues with Jess Carter, Svitkova and Bethany England all being introduced in place of Charles, Kaneryd and scorer of four goals, Kerr. Our goal scoring would not cease and Harder bagged a brace on 72 minutes, pouncing on England’s knock down for the Blues sixth of the night.
There was a welcome return to the squad for Fran Kirby with 15 minutes to play as she replaced Fleming, while Alsu Abdullina came on for Reiten who had been excellent. Fresh from the bench, Svitkova got in on the scoring act with a seventh for the Blues and her first for the club since joining in the summer.
With two minutes to play, there was still time for Chelsea to add to our scoring tally. Harder, one of several players who had produced an outstanding performance on the night, netted a hat-trick of her own when she converted from close-range, putting the icing on the cake as we charged purposefully into top spot in Group A.
The Blues are back in Women’s Super League action this Sunday 30 October, when we welcome Aston Villa to Kingsmeadow with kick-off at 2pm (UK time)
We will be looking for a fifth consecutive league victory in our first WSL match at Kingsmeadow since before the international break.
Fans who cannot attend the match will be able to follow the action via our platforms, while the game will also be available to watch on the FA Player.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Musovic; Perisset, Buchanan, Eriksson, Charles (Carter 63’); Fleming (Kirby 73’), Ingle, Harder; Reiten (Abdullina 73’), Kerr (England 63’), Rytting Kaneryd (Svitkova 63’)
Unused Subs: Berger, Orman, Nouwen, Bright, James, Cuthbert.
Scorers: Kerr (10’, 36’, 57‘, 60‘), Harder (38’, 72’, 88‘), Svitkova (77‘)
Booked: Perisset (21’)
Vllaznia (4-2-3-1): Williams-Mosier (Rexhepi 76’); Popovic (Ramadani 45’), Knox, Maliqi, Gjini; Berisha, Franja; Patterson (Shala 76’), Cavanaugh, Doci; Bashka (Lufo 45’) (Davidson 83’)
Unused Subs: Raxhimi,Vuksani, Davidson, Gjergji, Kodra, Saranovic.
Crowd: 3, 022