By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium
Chelsea 4 v Everton 0
Beth England scored a brace to secure all three points as Chelsea dispatched aggressive and defence-minded Everton 4-0 at Kingsmeadow this afternoon.
So-Yun Ji opened the scoring on 17 minutes taking full advantage of a defensive lapse by goalkeeper Sandy MacIver. With the last kick of the match, Pernille Harder thumped home a spectacular 25-yarder to complete the rout.
The home side were not at their imperious best and Everton’s swift counter-attacking play meant that until England’s brace in the space of two second-half minutes, the match was always in the balance.
A late header by Damaris Egurrola, saw the ball rebound off the Chelsea left upright, but it was a welcome clean sheet for the west Londoners who are now second in the WSL, two points behind Arsenal who have a 100 per cent record after five matches.
The away side, who defeated the Blues in the FA Cup quarter-final last month started the game the better, but Ann-Katrina Berger’s goal was not seriously threatened in the opening exchanges.
A brilliant move inspired by Erin Cuthbert, saw Jonna Andersson cross into the penalty area, where in-running Pernille Harder was inches away from making contact with her head. But she missed the ball by inches.
Harder was again close from a Andersson free-kick but Egurrola managed to clip the ball away for a corner.
The Blues forced Everton’s goalkeeper Sandy MacIver into a sloppy clearance, the ball bounced off the back of England to Ji. The South Korean trapped the high ball perfectly, took one touch before ramming home a low, right-footer from the edge of the penalty area to put Chelsea 1-0 up on 17 minutes
Izzy Christiansen was unlucky on 33 minutes when she latched onto a defence-splitting ball. The midfielder could not get enough power on her unchallenged volley to trouble Berger.
England should have scored two minutes later when an equally good ball by Cuthbert fell to the striker, but she could not direct her header accurately and it went wide of goal.
England then broke free to race in on goal. But after rounding MacIver, she contrived to put the ball in to the side-netting rather than the empty net.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
A thunderbolt from England on 62 minutes stung the finger-tips of MacIver as the goalkeeper just got to the long-range effort that was heading to the top right-hand corner of the net.
A fantastic last-gasp lunge by right-back Maren Mjelde denied Everton a breakaway equaliser on 68 minutes. The Norway skipper managed to stretch her legs to block Hayley Raso’s far post volley and deflect the ball away for a corner.
MacIver had two bites of the cherry to thwart Cuthbert whose powerful drive almost increased the lead.
But increase they did and it was England who scored twice in two minutes, the first on 73 minutes to put the game beyond the Toffeewomen.
Both were close range efforts that saw the striker take advantage of some sloppy defending.
She almost notched up a five-minute hat-trick but a powerful header inched wide of goal.
With the game won, Cuthbert was replaced by Sam Kerr on 79 minutes with Jessie Fleming replacing Ji.
Jess Carter replaced left-back Jonna Andersson with four minutes left in the clock.
The Blues went in search for a fourth but were content with three.
With the last kick of the match, Harder produced the goal of the game, thumping home a spectacular angled 25-yarder that zipped past MacIver.
Next week is a potential title-decider when the Blues head north to face Arsenal.
Chelsea, Berger, Bright, Ingle, Leupolz, England, Eriksson, Mjelde, Cuthbert, Harder, Andersson
Subs. Orman, Thorisdottir, Carter, J, Fleming, Kerr, Charles, Murphy.
Everton: MacIver, Wold, Turner, Christiansen, Magill, Emile, Egurrola, Sorensen, Raso, Finnigan, Sevecke
Subs: Korpela, Boye-Hlorkah, Stringer, Pike, Clemaron, Clinton, Pattinson
Referee: Abi Byrne
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