Chelsea FC Women are through to the quarter-final of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup after beating Leicester City at Kingsmeadow this afternoon.
A brace from both Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr and goals from Ji So-Yun, Aniek Nouwen and Bethany England ensured the Blues safely progressed to the next round, which will take place on the weekend of 19/20 March.
Emma Hayes had made three changes to the side that drew with Arsenal before the international break with Niamh Charles, Ji So-Yun and Lauren James coming into the starting 11, James making her first Blues start since signing for the club at the start of the season and Charles making her 50th appearance in a Chelsea shirt.
The first real chance of the game came in the 13th minute. Jemma Purfield looped in a corner to the back post which was nodded towards goal from Howard, but it just clipped the roof of the net.
The Foxes were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position just moments later, Millie Bright received a booking for her late challenge. It was nervy for the Blues who just managed to hack the ball clear off the line as a Leicester attacker headed towards goal.
Lydia Bedford’s side applied early pressure, but that soon fizzled out when Leicester’s Sophie Howard was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Jonna Andersson. It was an uphill battle for the Foxes from then on, as we dominated play.
Leicester’s Sophie Howard was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Jonna Andersson just 16 minutes into the game. It was an uphill battle for the Foxes then on.
The Blues almost took the lead moments later as confidence rocketed; James put a perfect through ball into the path of Kerr who cut it back to Kirby in the box. Kirby’s initial strike was blocked, the rebound fell to Harder whose strike was deflected out for a corner.
Harder opened the scoring 23 minutes into proceedings. Sophie Ingle threaded through the perfectly weighted pass into the path of Harder who made no mistake in slotting the ball past Demi Lambourne in the Foxes goal.
Kerr looped in an inviting cross for Kirby to latch on to, but her effort was just wide of the Leicester goal as the Blues ramped up the pressure in search of a second.
We doubled our lead with 10 minutes left of the half after a well-worked move. Andersson played Kerr down the left wing, Kerr drilled a ball across the face of goal allowing Harder to tap in from close range.
Shortly before the interval Ji was in search of scoring her 67th Blues goal, her effort from 30-yards out with the top corner in mind curled just wide of Lambourne’s net.
Bright, who had been in fine goalscoring form for England over the international break, almost got on the scoresheet for the Blues today when our No.4 connected well with Kirby’s corner, but it landed just on the roof of the net.
We started the second half just as we left the first, on the front foot. Kirby whipped in an early corner which met the head of Kerr who just couldn’t guide her header on target.
The Kerr and Kirby link-up continued throughout the second half, our No.20 drilled an effort across the face of goal and Kirby connected well but her strike bounced out for another corner.
It was Kerr who tripled our lead against the Foxes with half an hour left on the clock. Harder played the ball to Kerr who was central in the box and she coolly placed it into the far-right corner to make it 3-0 to the Blues.
Ji got her first Blues goal of the season when the ball ricocheted to her following a Kirby corner. Our No.10 curled it in beautifully from the left-hand side of the box as we comfortably saw out the win against the Foxes.
Kerr was whiskers away from grabbing our fifth when Kirby played in a phenomenal ball to the back post, our No.20’s strike bounced off the post before Leicester hacked it away from danger.
Kirby very nearly got on the scoresheet herself when Harder headed the ball into the feet of our No.14 in the box but her effort skimmed just wide.
Bethany England took to the field in the second half and made an immediate impact for the Blues, almost grabbing an assist just seconds after entering the field of play. Our No.9 found space in the box and picked out Kerr who struck whiskers wide of Lambourne’s goal.
It was goals galore in the final stages of the game as the Blues scored three goals in 12 minutes to wrap up a comfortable win at Kingsmeadow.
Aniek Nouwen got herself on the scoresheet with her first Blues goal. Harder headed the ball across goal and Nouwen was there rising highest to head past Lambourne with 10 minutes left on the clock.
We got our sixth of the afternoon after a speedy attack. Fleming on the right-hand side picked out Kerr who just tapped the ball past Lambourne from close range.
England got in on the goalscoring action just two minutes later, our No.9 found herself unmarked in the box to head past Lambourne with ease to round off a successful day for Hayes’ side.
Next up for the Blues is the Continental Tyres League Cup final as we take on Manchester City at Plough Lane next Saturday.
Chelsea (4-4-2): Berger, Charles, Bright, Nouwen, Andersson (Abdullina 70), Ingle (Spence 45), James (Fleming 64), So-Yun, Harder, Kirby (England 74), KerrUnused substitutes: Musovic, Carter, ReitenYellow card: Bright 13Scorers: Harder 23, 35, Kerr 60, 82, Ji 66, Nouwen 78Leicester City (3-4-3): Lambourne, Howard, McManus, Brougham, de Graaf, Tierney (Barker 69), Pike, Purfield, O’Brian, Flint, Gregory (Goodwin 59)Yellow card: Tierney 63Red card: Howard 17Unused substitutes: Harris, Devlin, Bailey-Gayle, Smith, RobinsonAttendance: 2,723