Chelsea 5 v Reading 0
Fran Kirby smashed home a stunning left footer midway in the second half that took away any sense of jeopardy for the Blues as they arrowed toward their deserved WSL title, thrashing Reading 5-0 at Kingsmeadow Stadium.
It was the third goal, but the crucial one as it effectively ended any potential comeback from a dour opposition.
The west Londoners needed to win to ensure second-placed Manchester City couldn’t catch them, and within 90 seconds of the start, the rout was on. A thunderous strike by Melanie Leupolz was followed by the first of Kirby’s brace before a neat finish by Sam Kerr made it four. An ugly bundled effort from close range by Erin Cuthbert made it five to ensure there would be no final league day drama.
Chelsea lost just one match in the league all season, but were driven hard by Man City whose 1-0 win at West Ham kept them at arms’ length.
If there were any nerves they we soon settle in the second minute when following a Jess Carter Corner the ball fell invitingly to Melanie Leupolz who hit a thunderbolt of a 25-yarder through a hoard of players and pst Grace Maloney to put the Londoners 1-o up.
Rather than capitalise of their early advantage, the Blues took their foot off the gas, allowing Reading the chance to get a foothold in the match.
While the visitors didn’t look like scoring in the opening phase of the half, neither did they look like conceding.
It didn’t help that Sam Kerr seemed to be watching Timo Werner and drift needlessly into offside positions when a simple look to determine where her closest defender was would have reaped benefits.
Eventually dominance in possession told, and following a slick passing movement the ball fell to Fran Kirby who lashed the ball high into the top of Maloney net from the edge of the Reading penalty area to double the lead.
The second half saw Reading start in the front foot.
But one massive hoof from Millie Bright on 58 minutes saw Sam Kerr collect the ball on the edge of the penalty area. She waiting for Kirby to catch up, before slotting the ball to her fellow striker.
Kirby took one touch before thumping a sizzler of a left footer past Maloney and into the top left hand corner of her net.
With the game effectively over Emma Hayes made a triple substation, on came Guro Reiten, Jonna Andersson and Erin Cuthbert.
Those rested were Ji, Niamh Charles and Pernille Harder.
They were followed by Hannah Blundell and Jessie Fleming for Jess Carter and Leupolz.
Then with 20 minutes left on the clock a simple pass by Kirby to Kerr, saw the Australian clip the ball past the Reading goalkeeper for number four.
Number five came five minutes later as Cuthbert bundled the ball home from close range – Reiten almost made it six but Maloney did well to deflect her low, left footer away from the goal.
Without any fans to cheer the Blues home to their fourth title, when the final whistle was blown, there was a sense of job done, rather than total elation which would come from the energy from the crowd.
But with one final match at home against Everton in the FA Cup, at the end of the month, the possibility of fans in the ground is real. They deserve it.
Teams; Chelsea, Berger, Ingle, Bright, Carter, Leupolz, Ji, Kirby, Eriksson, Kerr, Charles, Harder
Subs: Musovic, Telford, Blundell, England, Reiten, Fleming, Cuthbert, Spence, Andersson
Reading, Mooney, Levine, Williams, Bartrip, James, Harding, Cooper, Carter, Rowe, Roberts, Harries.
Subs: , Eikeland, Nay.or, Chaplin, Flores, Childerhouse
Referee Stacy Pearson
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