First Chelsea goals from Nathalie Bjorn and Catarina Macario, and strikes from Mayra Ramirez and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, ensured the Blues remain at the top of the WSL table in a tight title race. Goal difference separates us from Manchester City.

In this first outing after a two-week international break, the Blues had to work hard for the points and were grateful for some sharp goalkeeping from Hannah Hampton before we took the lead late in the first half, an advantage that was doubled before half-time.

Bjorn opened the scoring from close range after Leicester dealt poorly with a corner, while Ramirez found the net in style for a 2-0 lead after a storming run straight down the middle.

Leicester maintained an attacking edge during the second half, mostly on the counter, but Emma Hayes’s side more or less sealed the win with a deflected effort from Rytting Kaneryd with a third of the game to go.

Before the end, it was pleasing enough that Macario made her long-awaited debut following her recovery from serious injury but the fact she added the fourth goal was sweet indeed.

It completed an emphatic response to defeat in our last game when Man City took the points at Kingsmeadow.

With title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal having both won earlier in the weekend, the pressure was on the Blues to take all the points from this visit to the East Midlands. We had lost a top-of-the-table clash last time out but had a good record of recovering from defeat, with a win immediately following each of the last three losses in the WSL.

Chelsea could have scored within 15 seconds of this match beginning but there was a save from Guro Reiten at the far post when she got her boot to a Rytting Kaneryd cross. The supplier of that ball was in the starting line-up today in place of suspended Lauren James.

It then took a headed clearance over the Foxes bar from Josie Green to keep it 0-0 after Jelena Cankovic’s forehead sent a corner on target.

Leicester let Chelsea know we are in for a game

A bright start then from the Blues. However, Hampton had to make a save from Jutta Rantala with 11 minutes played, albeit a routine one, and then six minutes later it took a much more difficult double stop to prevent the home side taking the lead.

Firstly, our goalie repelled a well-struck shot from Rantala and then at the foot of the post, she touched Yuka Momiki’s follow-up effort wide. The Japanese international clearly thought she should have scored.

With Chelsea having won 9-0 and 8-0 at the King Power Stadium the previous two seasons, it could have been called a shock had Leicester gone ahead but our opponents are having their best WSL season so far. This was clearly a tougher challenge for Hayes’s side.

We reached the half-hour point with Chelsea having had the one effort on target to Leicester’s three.

Bjorn breaks through

It took an excellent sliding interception from Jess Carter, facing her own goal, to prevent a Courtney Nevin cross doing more damage but then Chelsea won a corner – and went ahead.

Leicester had two chances to clear the danger after Reiten had delivered the ball but failed to take them. Bjorn’s looping, hooked shot towards the goal, from inside the six-yard box, was just what was needed to clear the defence but drop under the crossbar. It had taken 38 minutes to break the deadlock.

Five minutes later it was 2-0. Ramirez had earlier had a run on goal thwarted by an offside flag but this time there was no danger of that. She robbed Julie Thibaud of the ball and ran half the length of the pitch to go round Leicester keeper Lize Kop and hit the target.

Cankovic could have made it 3-0 before the interval but Kop saved.

The second half began with Hampton saving from Momiki – another further warning – but then Ramirez stretched the home defence again before shooting wide.

Finishing strongly

The third goal did come just past the hour-mark. Cankovic found space, Rytting Kaneryd cut the ball inside, and her shot beat Kop with the help of a deflection.

Sjoeke Nusken was denied by a good save but there was one more goal to come.

Macario had been on the pitch for only six minutes when another substitute, Aggie Beever-Jones, played her the ball. After one touch on the half-turn, the USA international beat Kop with ease.

Today’s victory maintains the Blues’ 100 per cent record against the Foxes in Women’s Super League encounters. It is six wins out of six.

What it means

The three points mean Chelsea again finish the round of fixtures on top of the WSL table, tied on points with Manchester City but with a +3 better goal difference. Arsenal in third are three points further back. There are seven league games left to play.

The Blues take on the Gunners at Stamford Bridge on Friday 15 March with tickets still available

What’s next?

There are back-to-back away cup ties next week, with first up a trip to Manchester City for a Continental Tyres League Cup semi-final. That is on Thursday evening at 7.15pm. Then early Sunday afternoon at 1pm we play away at Everton in the FA Cup.

Hampton; Perisset, Carter, Bjorn, Charles (c); Cuthbert (Ingle h-t), Nusken (Kirby 72); Rytting Kaneryd (Hamano 79), Cankovic, Reiten (Beever-Jones 72); Ramirez (Macario 72)
Unused subs Berger, Musovic, Leupolz
Scorers Bjorn 38, Ramirez 44, Rytting Kaneryd 64, Macario 78

Leicester Kop; Bott, Green (Howard 54), Thibaud, Cayman (Baker 66); Takarada; Rantala (Draper 85), Tierney, Momiki (Pelgander 85), Nevin; Whelan (c) ( Petermann 66)
Unused subs Dowsett, Ale, Palmer, Siemsen
Booked Momiki 80

Referee Phoebe Cross