Chelsea Women secured our third straight league victory with a 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Goals from Guro Reiten, Sam Kerr and Bethany England sealed all three points against the Seagulls at Kingsmeadow on Saturday afternoon.
Chelsea got off to the perfect start when Reiten fired a low drive past Brighton goalkeeper Megan Walsh on nine minutes, and it got even better for the Blues just before the break when Kerr headed in her fifth league goal of the campaign.
Brighton pulled a goal back two minutes into the second half through Danielle Carter. Reiten came close to extending the Blues lead on the hour mark with a curling free-kick but Brighton goalkeeper Walsh managed to deny the Norwegian with a fingertip save.
Substitute England made an impact within two minutes of coming on as she fired in a third to seal the victory and make it three league wins on the bounce for the Blues.
Next up for Chelsea is our opening Champions League group stage fixture against Wolfsburg at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday evening.
Emma Hayes made one change to the side that started our last league game against Manchester United, with Cuthbert coming into the starting XI ahead of Niamh Charles.
After being rested for Wednesday’s FA Cup quarter-final, Ann-Katrin Berger lined up in goal behind a back three of Millie Bright, Jess Carter and skipper Magda Eriksson.
Sophie Ingle and Melanie Leupolz were deployed in central midfield with Cuthbert on the right and Reiten on the left. Kirby, Kerr and Harder lined up in attack for the Blues and Hayes had plenty of options on a bench which included England, Jessie Fleming and Drew Spence.
Chelsea were immediately on the front foot and nearly went ahead within the opening minutes but Harder’s header from a Cuthbert cross went just inches wide of the post. Harder then turned provider for Kerr as she threaded a ball through to the Australian, but Kerr failed to direct her effort on target.
It was to be third time lucky for the Blues when we took a much-deserved lead on nine minutes.
Chelsea won the ball back deep in the Brighton half before a quick throw in from Cuthbert got Harder in behind our opponent’s defence. The ball eventually broke to Kirby and the No.14 laid it off to Reiten who took one touch before firing low past Walsh in the Brighton goal.
Chelsea had skipper Eriksson to thank for denying Brighton an equaliser just before the 20-minute mark. The Swedish international produced a magnificent headed clearance off the line with Aileen Whelan’s strike destined for the top corner.
Eriksson then nearly made a telling impact at the other end as she rose highest to connect with a Reiten corner, but the captain’s header spun the wrong side of the far post.
Kerr has scored twice in each of our last two league games and the Blues forward was on the scoresheet once again today. Kirby dropped deep to pick up the ball in midfield before she delivered a looping ball into the box and Kerr beat the onrushing goalkeeper in the air to head the Blues into a 2-0 lead.
While it was Chelsea that started the opening half the brighter, our opponents Brighton made an immediate impact after the half-time break. Whelan turned in the box before delivering a cross to Carter and the Brighton forward fired low into the bottom corner to halve the deficit on 47 minutes.
Brighton had been lifted by Carter’s goal and our opponents came close to finding a leveller just before the hour mark but luckily for the Blues, Eriksson was in the right place to block Carter’s goalbound effort.
Reiten nearly had her second of the game as she met a corner from Cuthbert, but the Norwegian couldn’t keep her header under the crossbar.
The No.11 then saw her curling free-kick, which was headed for the bottom corner, tipped away to safety by Walsh but the Blues were certainly edging closer to regaining our two-goal cushion.
Hayes brought on England and Charles with just over 10 minutes remaining and the change made an immediate impact.
Kirby, with her third assist of the afternoon, found England with a delighted low cross into the box and the No. 9 provided a composed finish into the top corner to seal the three points.
Chelsea begin our Champions League campaign on Wednesday as we welcome Wolfsburg to Kingsmeadow for our opening group stage fixture. Tickets are available to buy online.
Chelsea (3-4-3) Berger; Bright, Carter, Eriksson; Cuthbert (Charles 77), Ingle, Leupolz, Reiten (Andersson 83); Kirby (Fleming 83), Kerr (England 77), HarderUnused subs Musovic, Telford, Nouwen, Spence, Andersson, FoxScorers Reiten 9 Kerr 37 England 79Booked Bright 27
Brighton (4-2-3-1) Walsh; Le Tissier, Kerkdijk (Simpkins 46), Williams, Koivisto; Conolly (Brazil 71), Whelan; Green, Gibbons, Kaagman; Carter (Babajide 86)Unused Subs Stenson, Robinson, Arimoro, Bance, CordierScorers Carter 47Booked Kaagman 64
Referee Amy FearnCrowd 2,480