Chelsea Women 3-2 West Ham United Women: Kerr-ific!

It ended Chelsea Women 3-2 West Ham United Women in the Barclays Women’s Super League today as fans were welcomed back to Kingsmeadow to enjoy a tense and tumultuous London Derby which ended with the Blues setting a WSL record for most successive home wins.

Chelsea Women 3-2 West Ham United Final Score Edit
Edit by @MAALI____

Sam Kerr opened the scoring from close range after a quarter of an hour to stab home Fran Kirby’s cross, before Rachel Daly tapped home to equalise moments into the second half. The Australian star’s second following Pernille Harder’s parried effort and her hat-trick goal as she once again finished off a Kirby cross looked to have made it comfortable for the Blues, but a late own goal from captain Magda Eriksson made it a nervous final few minutes for the defending Champions.

Pre-Game

With players returning from fitness, Emma Hayes chose to shuffle the pack once again as she searches for consistency in performance to match results.

The exciting attacking quintuplet of Fran Kirby, Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr, Beth England and Ji So-Yun – the latter making her 100th WSL appearance, a personal record for non-British players – promised goals.

First Half

It was a frenetic start at a lively Kingsmeadow, buoyed by the 700 returning fans. Both sides looked nervous on the ball and Martha Thomas had the first chance for the Irons. A miscued shot nearly bounced to her, but Chelsea keeper Ann-Katrin Berger smothered well.

The Blues’s first chance came through record-signing Pernille Harder, who dribbled past two players, but she was closed down well by the dogged West Ham defence.

Chelsea did, however, start to get a measure of the game and after a nervy opening 15, they took the lead. First, Ji So-Yun won the ball back after an attempted nutmeg on her, feeding the ball to Pernille Harder. The Dane stroked the ball perfectly into the path of the overlapping Fran Kirby. The returning England international expertly crossed into the six-yard box and found Sam Kerr. The Aussie international has been in okay form this season, but she finished well to poke home on the slide. Chelsea Women 1-0 West Ham Women.

The away side should have levelled instantly, however. A mistake in the midfield allowed Rachel Daly to pick off the ball, but Berger made herself big in the 1-on-1 and saved brilliantly.

Chelsea started to take a grip of the game from there, and Melanie Leupolz went close. The German found herself in space to fire from outside the box, but unfortunately Arnold was able to tip it away for a corner. Another chance came and went minutes later as Maren Mjelde’s flighted free kick was headed over by Magda Eriksson.

One final chance before half-time again for the Blues to put gloss on the scoreline. A cross into the box found Beth England, but the No. 9 could only head wide uncharacteristically. Despite that, Chelsea finished the half in control and threatening a second.

Half Time: Chelsea Women 1-0 West Ham United Women

Second Half

The second half yielded a very quick goal, although it did not go the way Kingsmeadow’s faithful hoped. A driving run down the left from Adriana Leon saw her breeze past several Chelsea players and arrive at the byline. She rolled a delightful cross through the six-yard box for the unmarked Rachel Daly. The on-loan midfielder initially looked like she’d blundered, tamely side-footing against the inside of the post. However, luck shined on her and it meekly rolled over the goal-line, despite the best efforts of Berger.

This early setback seemed to knock Chelsea, who struggled to get control. West Ham, under Matt Beard’s interim stewardship were compact and committed a number of cheap fouls to disrupt play. However, with 55′ on the clock, the home side regained their lead.

Once again, Fran Kirby was involved as this time she teed up Pernille Harder. The Danish star took a speculative shot across goal which was parried by Arnold back into danger. This proved costly as Australian star Sam Kerr showed great predatory instinct to predict the bounce of the loose ball. This left her with a simple chance which she snapped up for her brace. Emma Hayes made her first change minutes after, with Maris Thorisdottir replaced by Millie Bright.

Chelsea could have benefitted from more poor goalkeeping just past the 60′ mark. Beth England tirelessly pressed the Hammers defence and eventually forced the ball back to Arnold. The usually reliable Australian fumbled her kick and presented the ball back to England, who was taken by surprise and unable to control the ball.

The centre-forward was replaced moments afterwards, showing obvious frustration. Both she and Ji were replaced by Sophie Ingle and Guro Reiten – a measure of Emma Hayes’s squad depth.

Chelsea Women had a new hat-trick hero on the 65′ minute. Once again, it was the familiar combination of Kirby to Kerr as the England international crossed to the unmarked Aussie to tap home. In the aftermath of the goal, she clashed hips with a defender. Rather than not risk it, Kerr was replaced by Erin Cuthbert.

The home side continued to control the game, trying to exploit the extra space as the Irons pushed players forward. Cuthbert, Harder and Eriksson all had chances to add gloss to the scoreline, but it remained 3-1 going into the final five minutes.

The inability to properly kill the game proved problematic. Hammers’ substitute Alisha Lehmann tested Chelsea’s back four with two minutes left on the clock and her teasing cross was inexplicably headed into her own net by Magda Eriksson. Chelsea Women 3-2 West Ham United Women.

Thankfully, the only team who looked likely to score again after this point was Chelsea. Firstly, Arnold brilliantly stopped Erin Cuthbert’s close-range free kick with a strong palm. Then, Sophie Ingle’s fierce volley was deflected wide. Finally, Millie Bright nodded over from Cuthbert’s corner as the Blues closed out the game.

Chelsea Women 3-2 West Ham United Women – Final Thoughts

Certainly not a vintage performance from Emma Hayes’s side, despite the attacking talent on display. West Ham came with a game plan to be dogged and fight for everything. Despite this, it’s now 12 home games in a row that the Blues have won and it’s worth noting they still haven’t hit top gear this season.

The goals for Sam Kerr will certainly be welcomed ahead of the Women’s Champions League returning too. Chelsea Women 3-2 West Ham United Women means Chelsea stay in 3rd, with a game in hand, 2 points ahead of Everton.

Final Score: Chelsea Women 3-2 West Ham United Women

Written and edited by Rob Pratley


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