BY PAUL LAGAN
Sam Kerr scored her first goal in English football as Chelsea went on the rampage against Arsenal, thrashing the WSL 1 league champions 4-1 – opening up the title race for the west Londoners who are a point behind Manchester City and Arsenal with a game in hand.
In a pulsating 10 first half minutes, Chelsea blew the north Londoners away as Beth England and a zipper from Sophie England put the game beyond Arsenal.
In the second half, Guro Reiten finished off a wonderful team goal to put the Blues 4-0 up, Arsenal rallied and snatched a consolation goal through substitute Beth Mead, although Chelsea stopper Ann-Katrin Berger made a hash of the weak goal bound effort.
Neither side were giving much away in the early stages, while the players looked nervous, with a number of passes going astray.
But with the first attack of the game, Chelsea scored a sizzler. A beautiful through ball by Reiten fed Beth England on the right. The England striker cut inside and let fly with a sensational left-footed curler that, while Manuela Zinsberger got a touch to, she could not stop the ball sailing into the top corner of her net
Seconds later England missed a sitter by heading over the crossbar from close range..
But on 15 minutes, Reiten was free on the left and sent over the perfect cross, and at the far post Kerr headed home her first goal of her Chelsea career to put the visitors 2-0 up.
Arsenal responded well and Katie McCabe forced a fine save from Ann-Karin Berger at her near post. But that was the best it got for the Gooners in the opening 45 minutes.
Incredibly Chelsea smashed home a third on 22 minutes when Sophie Ingle picked up the second ball from a Reiten free-kick and arrowed the perfect left-footed half volley 20 yards out that gave Zinsberger no chance.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
As one would expect, Arsenal pressed in the early stages of the restart in a vain attempt o pull off an unlikely comeback.
However the first effort on goal fell to Chelsea when Kerr an Ji combined well on the left – the Australian flicked the ball inches wide of the home side’s goal.
But it was the Blues who struck next on 68 minutes when a wonderful team move saw Jonna Andersson cross from the left as Reiten, who was heavily involved in the attack struck a wonderful looping header high and wide of Zinsberger to make it 4-0.
Chelsea were coasting at this point and inevitably conceded space to Arsenal.
Any attempt obtain a clean sheet, were lost, when with 15 minutes left on the clock Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Karin Berger committed a howler of an error when she left slip through her grasp a Beth Mead header
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes sought to see out the remaining minutes – Reiten was replaced on 81 minutes for defender Hannah Blundell.
Kerr was next off for Drew Spence on 85 minutes.
Teams: Chelsea Berger, Bright, Ingle, England, Ji, Reiten, Eriksson, Mjelde, Kerr, Cuthbert
Subs; Telford, Blundell, Cooper, Napier, Bachmann, Spence, Carter
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Williamson, Van de Donk, Nobbs, Little, Miedema, Walti, Roord, McCabe, Quinn, Schnaderbeck
Subs; Evan, Peyraud-Magnin, Mayer, Mead, Grant, Filis
Referee Abigail Byrne
Picture: Ji So-Yun poses for a selfie with fans after the 4-1 of Arsenal
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