The Blues advanced to the Continental Cup Semi Finals in style as they ended their goal drought. Pernille Harder grabbed a blistering hat-trick as West London triumphed over East as it ended West Ham 2-4 Chelsea.
After several abandoned matches, Emma Hayes rotated heavily. This was Chelsea’s first match since the capitulation in Wolfsburg and a number of new names got a chance to impress. Ann-Katrin Berger returned in goal with Jess Carter and Millie Bright partnered by Aniek Nouwen at the back. The Dutch defender came in for the injured captain Magda Eriksson, meaning Bright took the armband.
Erin Cuthbert kept her right wingback spot, with Jonna Andersson coming in on the left. Jessie Fleming and Sophie Ingle were midfield partners, with Pernille Harder, Fran Kirby and Niamh Charles in the front 3. Chelsea named new signing Alsu Abdullina on the bench, but would be without Ji So-Yun and Sam Kerr, both at the Asia Cup
Chelsea laboured early on. Having had almost a month off, initial touches were rusty and there was little quality. However, a brilliant counter-attack started by Jessie Fleming’s pinpoint through-ball changed the atmosphere. Fran Kirby was the grateful recipient and she squared for Harder to sweep home on the 25th minute.Embed from Getty Images
However, the Hammers showed they were not going to roll over and Claudia Walker’s ball was fired home by Katerina Svitkova, via a heavy deflection off Bright. The frustration once again was evident as Emma Hayes’s side once again went in at half-time not leading – for the 3rd match in a row.
The Blues started with intent to do better. They regained sharpness after the opening 45 minutes and deservedly took the lead on the 61st minute. A brilliant passing move involving Harder, Kirby and Ingle released Andersson down the left. Her superb cross found Cuthbert and she powered the corner into the net.
Three minutes later, it was 3-1 as Fleming’s clever backheel found Kirby. Her outside-the-boot shot was palmed by Leat, but Harder pounced for her 2nd. The Dane completed her hat-trick five minutes later. Andersson found herself on the right side of the pitch, but it didn’t matter as her deep ball was deftly headed back across into the far corner by Harder.Embed from Getty Images
Alsu Abdullina came on for her Blues debut, but it was West Ham who grabbed the final goal late on. The substitutes combined as Evans set up Houssein who fired low under Berger. It didn’t matter, however, as Emma Hayes’s side once again returned to winning ways. It finished West Ham 2-4 Chelsea.
Full Time: West Ham 2-4 ChelseaEmbed from Getty Images
Final Thoughts: West Ham 2-4 Chelsea
An important win to get back on track. The Blues have another semi-final to look forward to as they look to defend their Continental Cup crown for the third year running. However, it’s back to WSL action this weekend, as Chelsea visit Brighton.