Chelsea FC Women moved to the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League with an emphatic victory over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium this afternoon.
Goals from Guro Reiten, Sam Kerr, Bethany England, Aniek Nouwen, Lauren James and Jessie Fleming ensured the Blues gained a vital three points and leapfrogged Arsenal in the race for the WSL title.
Emma Hayes’ side are now one point above Arsenal and sit at the summit of the WSL for the first time this season, with five games remaining.
The Blues are unbeaten in eight league games and have five remaining as the race for the title intensifies, with Hayes’ side eyeing up a third consecutive league title.
Hayes made five changes to the side who beat Birmingham in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup quarter-final last weekend with Zecira Musovic, Nouwen, Reiten, Cuthbert Sam Kerr all returning to the starting 11.
The intensity was there from the off and the Blues became the first team in WSL history to score three goals within the first ten minutes of play.
Our opening goal of the afternoon came through Guro Reiten. The Norway international won an early free-kick after making a dazzling run down the left flank, our No.11 then cut inside and was hacked down at the edge of the area.
Reiten then made no mistake and perfectly curled her free-kick past Demi Lambourne in the Leicester City goal to give us the lead just three minutes in.
We doubled our lead just two minutes later through Kerr. Millie Bright played a looping ball over the top for Kerr, whose initial effort was saved but our No.20 made no mistake and slotted in the rebound to make it two for the Blues.
It was three within seven minutes for the Hayes’ side as Beth England got involved with the goalscoring action. Kerr squared the ball to our No.9 who struck powerfully into the top corner from the edge of the box.
We then made it four just after ten minutes, Reiten whipped in a corner which was flicked on by Kerr, England drilled the ball at goal and Nouwen was at the front post to poke it past Lambourne to get her first WSL goal of the season.
Relentless on the attack, we continued to apply the pressure. Reiten whipped in a dangerous ball from the left aimed for Kerr, Lambourne dropped her initial catch but managed to retain the ball before the Blues could capitalise.
We got our fifth goal of the afternoon just before the half hour mark after some neat play in the final third. Reiten looped in a cross towards the back post, England made no mistake and nodded past Lambourne from close range.
Reiten rounded off a perfect half for the Blues with a sixth goal just before the interval. Ji threaded the ball into the path of Reiten on the left-hand side of the box, our No.11 dinked an exquisite chip into the right-hand corner, out of reach for Lambourne.
Hayes’ side started the second half as we did the first, in search for another goal.
We made it seven just one minute into the second half as Kerr got her second of the afternoon after England delivered a pin-point cross into the area allowing our No.20 to head home.
The Matildas striker has scored against every team she has faced in the WSL.
Hayes’ side continued to push for more, half-time substitute Jessie Fleming whipped in a deep cross for Niamh Charles at the back post but our No.21 couldn’t direct her effort on target.
The Blues were in control for the rest of the game, dominating the pace of play. Leicester City had few chances of note throughout the game as Lydia Bedford’s side struggled to create any sort of rhythm.
Erin Cuthbert hit the bar directly from a late corner as the Blues pushed for an eighth, however the ball bounced off the top of the bar and out for a goal-kick.
James got her first goal of the season late on, Charles pulled the ball back for our No.19 who was free in the centre of the box to fire the ball past Lambourne to make it 8-0.
The Blues had enough time to make it 9-0, Drew Spence backheeled the ball to Fleming at the edge of the box and the Canada international slotted in to round off a perfect performance.
Next up the Blues host Reading at Kingsmeadow on Sunday 3 April. Our clash against the Royals kicks off at 6:45pm and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Leicester City (3-4-3): Lambourne; Howard, Brougham, Plumptre (C) (Barker 30), De Graaf, Tierney, Pike (Robinson 79), Purfield, O’Brien (Boddy 79), Gregory, FlintUnused subs: Harris, Bailey-Gayle, Goodwin
Chelsea (3-5-2) Musovic; Carter (Eriksson 61), Bright (C), Nouwen (Mjelde 61); Charles, Ingle (Andersson 70), So-Yun (Fleming 45), Cuthbert, Reiten (Spence 70); Kerr, England (James 70)Unused subs: Berger, AbdullinaScorers: Reiten 3 & 45, Kerr 5 & 46, England 7 & 28, Nouwen 11, James 88, Fleming 90
Referee: Abigail Byrne