The Blues coasted into the quarter-finals of the Continental League Cup after scoring five second-half goals to make it four wins out of four in the group stage.
Having failed to find a breakthrough in the opening 45 minutes, as Spurs dug in defensively and we failed to make the most of the opportunities which came our way, we produced a magnificent attacking performance after the break.
Drew Spence got the ball rolling with a confident finish after Bethany England’s shot had broken to her near the penalty spot, and our lead was swiftly doubled when Erin Cuthbert rolled home a penalty kick awarded for a foul on Hannah Blundell.
We didn’t stop there, as England scored the goal of the game after a wonderful move involving Ji So-Yun, as the two players exchanged passes before our top scorer slotted home. And there was another fine finish too for our fourth, although not many would have expected a striker’s finish from Deanna Cooper, who rounded off another impressive display with her first of the campaign.
Although Spurs pulled one back against the run of play, there was still time for England to score her second of the game, which came after she reacted quickest when Magdalena Eriksson’s shot came off the bar. That put the seal on a thumping victory which ensures we progress into the knockout stage of the competition with a game to spare.
After the 1-0 win over Manchester United in front of a full house at Kingsmeadow on Sunday, which kept us top of the Barclays Women’s Super League standings, Emma Hayes made six changes to her starting line-up. Carly Telford, Charlotte Wardlaw, Jess Carter, Cooper, Blundell and Spence came into the side in place of Ann-Katrin Berger, Maren Mjelde, Millie Bright, Sopie Ingle, Ramona Bachmann and Guro Reiten.
For Blundell, it was a return to action for the first time since the opening game of the season, when we took on Spurs at Stamford Bridge. Wardlaw, meanwhile, is the second player from our Academy side to step into the first team for a Continental League Cup group game this term after Charlotte Fleming played 67 minutes against Lewes earlier this month. With another 16-year-old, forward Emily Murphy, also named among the substitutes, that took the number of Academy graduates involved in first-team squads this season to five.
The youngster was selected for her debut at right-back, playing on the opposite flank to Cooper, with Carter and Eriksson our centre-half pairing. Two players normally accustomed to playing at full-back lined up on the flanks, as Blundell and Andersson made up a midfield quartet alongside Ji and Spence. England and Cuthbert completed the 11 as our two strikers.
On a freezing night at Kingsmeadow – in stark contrast to when the two sides met back in September on a warm, early autumn afternoon at Stamford Bridge – it was the Blues who started the brighter of the two sides. However, on this occasion there was no early wonder goal like the one scored by England two months ago, as chances were passed up.
The first fell to Ji after the ball was cushioned into her path on the edge of the box, but she dragged her shot just wide of the target. It was clearly contagious, as less than a minute later Blundell was presented with an excellent opportunity following a deep cross by Andersson, only to scuff her volley into the ground.
The Swede, enjoying more freedom to roam in a more advanced role, was our biggest threat in the early stages and she was soon running free down the left once again. This time her cut back was for England, who composed herself to shift the ball onto her right foot and then promptly sent her shot high into the stands.
Our frustrations only intensified when the referee failed to award a penalty midway through the first half, as a barnstorming run from Blundell appeared to be halted by a sliding challenge which won little of the ball but took plenty of the player. However, referee Lisa Benn waved play on.
The official was in the thick of things soon after, as Wardlaw was a little overzealous in a challenge near the halfway line and upended Quinn. Despite the Spurs bench, who were a matter of feet away from the incident, making the most of it, the challenge quite clearly warranted the yellow card the debutant duly received.
As disappointing as our finishing and approach play had been for much of the opening 45 minutes, we quickly set about changing that in the second half as we came out the blocks rapidly to go in front just four minutes after the restart.
It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of goals, as a scrappy build-up resulted in England’s shot being blocked, but the ball dropped kindly to Spence and she made no mistake with a confident finish past Chloe Morgan.
Suddenly, having gone in front, our confidence in front of goal was sky high. Cuthbert tried her luck a few minutes later with a rasping drive from range which rattled the crossbar, but she wouldn’t have to wait long for another opportunity as the referee awarded a penalty for a reckless lunge on Blundell. The Scot stepped up to roll her spot-kick into the bottom left corner as Morgan dived the other way.
Now the floodgates had well and truly opened, and with it the quality of the goals was improving too. The third was the pick of the bunch, as England strode into Spurs territory and slipped the ball through to Ji, who promptly returned the favour to allow our top scorer to increase her tally for the season to six.
There was clearly going to be no respite for Spurs, as Hayes called upon Murphy for her debut in place of Cuthbert and then Blundell made way for Bachmann. We continued to push for goals and our fourth arrived courtesy of a wonderful curled finish by Cooper, who was the beneficiary of a slide-rule pass by England.
Although former Blues striker Rosella Ayane pulled a goal back for Spurs with an improvised finish with her chest at the far post, our No9 rounded off the scoring in the final five minutes, this time showing off her poacher’s instincts by following in after Eriksson’s free-kick was turned onto the bar by Morgan. While everyone else was stuck on their heels, England was on hand to head home to complete a wonderful second-half performance.
Four wins out of four, qualification assured and plenty of goals; all in all it had been an excellent evening’s work for the Blues in KT1.
After two games at Kingsmeadow this week, we’re back on the road for back-to-back away matches in the WSL as we travel to Birmingham City on Sunday, a game you can see live on BT Sport, followed by a trip to Everton the following weekend. Then it’s another biggie at Kingsmeadow: Chelsea versus Manchester City on Sunday 8 December. After our game against Man United sold out, don’t hesitate – click here to get your tickets now!
Chelsea (4-4-2) Telford; Wardlaw, Carter, Eriksson (c), Cooper; Blundell (Bachmann 64), Ji, Spence, Andersson; England, Cuthbert (Murphy 60)Unused subs Berger, Mjelde, Ingle, BachmannScorers Spence 49, Cuthbert (pen) 57, England 59, 84, Cooper 76Booked Wardlaw, Carter, Ji
Tottenham (4-2-3-1) Morgan; Leon, Filbey (Percival 46), Schillaci (c), Neville; Peplow, Haines; Wynne (Davison 72), Addison, Quinn; AyaneUnused subs Spencer, Percival, Davison, Dean, Worm, Graham, FurnessScorer Ayane 78Booked Haines, Neville
Referee Lisa Benn