Chelsea earned all three points in an entertaining 5-2 win over Leicester City, with goals from Lauren James, Sam Kerr and Agness Beever-Jones. The victory means Chelsea remain top of the Women’s Super League (WSL) going into the international break.
Chelsea captain Millie Bright was absent for the second game running, with the skipper not being involved in Chelsea’s 4-1 victory over Paris FC last Thursday.
There was a minute silence before the game started at Kingsmeadow to remember former Chelsea player and England manager Terry Venables, whose death was announced on Sunday afternoon.
Leicester kicked off the game, hoping to start strong after a poor run of form in the league. However, Chelsea quickly tarnished their hopes when James intercepted a misplaced pass allowing her to run at goal almost uncontested, before clinically putting the ball away
The early stages of the game went from bad to worse for the visitors as after a wonderful attacking combination between James, Kerr and Fran Kirby, Leicester defender Courtney Nevin unintentionally rebounded Janina Leitzig’s save into the back of their own net.
Chelsea continued to attack the goal as the half progressed, with Kirby unable to convert two well-placed crosses in quick succession.
At the other end, Leicester began to grow into the game and continued to test the Chelsea defence with several attacks requiring action from The Blues keeper, Ann-Katrin Berger.
In the 26th minute the Foxes’ continued, aggressive playstyle was finally rewarded when Jutta Runtala was left unmarked in the Chelsea penalty area, allowing her to fire the ball into the top left corner.
Both teams maintained their high-energy football as they neared the end of the half. James was looking particularly dangerous, as her lightning pace often led to Leicester defenders scrambling behind her.
Chelsea would be quickest to find the goal, as Niamh Charles squared the ball into the box, finding Kerr, who was then able to clinically put the ball away. Yet, Leicester would respond in the final minutes as Sam Tierney was able to poach the ball into the back of the net after Berger failed to keep hold of a direct free-kick.
The home side went in for the break 3-2 up, but with the attacking quality of the visitors clearly on show, the lead was anything but comfortable.
However, when play resumed, the competitiveness of the first half seemed to have melted away as Chelsea were able to run away with the game.
In the 58th minute, James was through on goal, once more due to a Leicester defensive mishap, and then effectively chipped the keeper, making it look easy for all in attendance.
As the game went on Chelsea opted for more long-range efforts on goal, but none of these particularly troubled Lietzig.
The game was essentially killed off when a well-timed header from substitute Agness Beever-Jones, directed the ball into the near post, in an area of the goal mouth Lietzig just could not get to in time. The goal was wonderfully assisted by a pin-point cross from Eve Perisset.
The final whistle blew with the scoreline reading 5-2 to Chelsea. They remain at the top of the WSL, whilst a loss saw Leicester remain in 7th place.
After the game, Foxes manager, Willie Kirk said that his team showed a lot of character despite the loss and that his team is a work in progress. He hopes that results will improve in the second half of the season.
Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, was much more critical of her team, highlighting how they only won 30% of their duels in the first half, as well as how the team failed to maintain a 100% win rate in the latest run of games.
Hayes also acknowledged the difficulties of maintaining the team’s momentum over the international break.
Chelsea’s next game is a top-of-the-table clash with Arsenal on the December 10.