A first Blues hat-trick from Lauren James led the way as Chelsea Women comfortably saw off Liverpool with a 5-1 WSL victory at Stamford Bridge.
Aggie Beever-Jones and Sjoeke Nusken were also on target in the convincing win, with Liverpool's reply coming from an own goal from Jess Carter at Stamford Bridge.
Lauren James got the Blues off to a flying start with a sweeping left-footed finish, but Liverpool replied instantly via an unfortunate own goal from Jess Carter. James then turned provider for Aggie Beever-Jones to restore our lead with her fourth consecutive WSL goal to give us a slender lead at the break.
James bagged a quickfire double to secure her hat-trick before Sjoeke Nusken tapped home Rytting Kaneryd's teasing cross from close-range, securing an emphatic 5-1 victory and extending our lead at the top of the table to six points ahead of the remaining WSL fixtures on Sunday.
Young talent shines
Emma Hayes made six changes to the side who began the 2-2 draw away to Real Madrid in the UEFA Women’s Champions League on Wednesday. Zecira Musovic started in goal while Maren Mjelde captained the side from the heart of defence and Eve Perisset came in at full-back.
A start for Sophie Ingle saw the midfielder become the all-time WSL appearance holder, while James would provide plenty of creative spark in the attacking areas. Beever-Jones made her first senior start for the Blues having impressed with three goals in as many WSL matches.
We came out of the blocks with purpose and opened the scoring inside 11 minutes courtesy of James. Ingle showed brilliant vision to pick out James who was in acres of space on the left. The forward drove into the penalty area, shifted the ball onto her left foot before calmly picking out the opposite corner and wheeling away in celebration.
However, our good work was undone almost instantly when Liverpool drew level in unfortunate circumstances. Shanice van de Sanden was played in down the right side and advanced into the area with time and space, pulling the ball back and seeing her intended pass deflect off Carter and beyond a helpless Musovic.
After this setback, we gathered ourselves swiftly and restored our advantage after James and Beever-Jones combined effectively. Sam Kerr set James free down the left and she delivered a perfectly weighted cross for Beever-Jones, who converted a powerful downward header which extends her scoring streak to four consecutive matches.
Liverpool regained their composure after falling behind and worked to prevent us adding a third goal before half-time. We continued to probe but the two goals from James and Beever-Jones saw us take a slender lead into the break after 45 minutes where young talent had stolen the show.
It was a quiet start to the second half, but this didn’t last for long as we extended our lead ten minutes after the restart when James produced another moment of individual brilliance. Kerr fed James down the left side and our bright spark drilled an emphatic left-footed effort into the bottom corner and to create a two-goal cushion.
Beever-Jones made way for Rytting Kaneryd in our first change of the afternoon on 63 minutes and shortly afterwards, the Swede turned provider for James to complete her hat-trick. Fresh from the bench, Rytting Kaneryd cut inside from the by-line and teed up James to fire home from close range and claim the match ball.
Liverpool came close to pulling a goal back but were denied by a superb goal line clearance from Perisset. A double substitution for the Blues saw Niamh Charles make way for Ashley Lawrence while Mia Fishel came on to replace Kerr who had put in a strong shift, playing vital roles in the build-up to our second and third goals.
We added a fifth goal with just under fifteen minutes to play. Rytting Kaneryd grabbed her second assist from the bench, sliding a lovely ball into the path of Nusken who tapped in her fourth goal of the campaign. This was followed by another double change which saw Nusken and Erin Cuthbert make way for Jessie Fleming and Fran Kirby.
That was the way it stayed as the Blues saw out the final moments of the game, with the Stamford Bridge crowd sent home happy following the impressive display from Emma Hayes's side which leaves us cemented at the top of the WSL table.
What it means
Three points for the Blues this afternoon sees us extend our lead at the top of the Barclays Women’s Super League table to six points ahead of the remaining fixtures on Sunday.
The Blues are back at Stamford Bridge this Thursday 23 November for matchday two of the UEFA Women’s Champions League where we will face Paris FC, and kick-off is scheduled for 8.00pm (UK time).
Chelsea (4-3-3): Musovic; Perisset, Mjelde (c), Carter, Charles Lawrence (75); Cuthbert (Fleming 80), Ingle, Nusken (Kirby 80); James, Kerr (Fishel 75), Beever-Jones (Rytting Kaneryd 63).
Unused Subs: Berger, Hampton, Nouwen, Buchanan.
Scorers: James (11, 56, 64), Beever-Jones (24), Nusken (77).
Liverpool (5-3-2): Laws; Koivisto (Parry 73), Fisk, Bonner, Clark, Hinds; Hobinger (Kearns 45), Nagano, Holland; van de Sanden (Kiernan 73), Roman Haug (Lawley (86).
Unused Subs: Micah, Enderby, Lundgaard, Flint, Taylor.
Scorers: Carter OG (13)
Booked: Bonner (40)
Referee: Kirsty Dowle