Sam Kerr double helps Chelsea past Reading and back to top of WSL

Chelsea returned to the top of the table in some style, putting five goals past Reading in front of a full house at the Kingsmeadow. Emma Hayes’ side played the late kick-off after Arsenal had also won by five goals against Leicester. Neither factor, 하나, seemed to affect their performance as they flexed their attacking muscles despite being without key players.

첼시, buoyed by the return of fans in the stands, looked to reward their support from the onset in the form of an early charge at Grace Moloney’s goal. Leading the attack was the talismanic Sam Kerr, bouncing passes off Erin Cuthbert, and seeping through the gaps of Reading’s stringent back four.

Without Fran Kirby, Pernille Harder, and Ji So-yun to supplement her play, the Australian instead depended upon the five-player midfield behind her to help fuel counters. One of the five was the in-form Guro Reiten, who had scored five times in her last nine games, and the Norwegian was orchestrating the play from her preferred position off the left.

It was through her that Chelsea first got the chance to score from a free-kick. Reiten attempted a cheeky low shot which only narrowly missed the goal.

Opportunities were few and far between, partly down to Reading’s attempts to snuff out the spaces for Chelsea’s attack to flood in to. It took until just before half-time before a similar chance would come, this time for Bethany England. The forward was through on goal but was forced to the byline and her shot blocked.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Moments later, Cuthbert looped a cross into the box that Jessie Fleming plucked from the sky before firing into the bottom corner to open the scoring in the 40th minute.

On the other side of half-time, Reading’s response was to beef up their attack by releasing Deanne Rose in a free role, perhaps looking to replicate her goal in December’s match between the sides.

하나, when she last faced Chelsea, Hayes’ defence were in an experimental phase. There would be no waltzing through this time around, not with the hosts’ back three far more experienced in the 3-5-2 설정.

In the 51st minute, England showed just how well that formation is working for her. She stole back possession on the Reading left flank and dashed into the box to receive an inch-perfect pass from Reiten which she volleyed home to make it 2-0.

Reiten bagged her second assist of the game 14 minutes later, making the most of a mistake in the Reading back four to tee up, with some inevitability, Kerr, for Chelsea’s 25th goal in six games.

The combination of a possession turnover, attack down the left and a Reiten assist would nightmarishly recur for the third time in the evening in the 76th minute. Reading gave away possession sloppily and Kerr converted in the box for her second, and Chelsea’s fourth, goal of the game.

With a 92nd-minute penalty conversion from England to make it 5-0 there were no doubts about Chelsea’s dominant and convincing return to the summit of the WSL.

The equation from here on remains simple: win the rest of their games and they successfully defend their title for the third year in a row. Hayes’ team returns to the Kingsmeadow on April 28 when they host Tottenham Hotspur in a rearranged fixture.

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