The Blues started their Women’s FA Cup defence in assured fashion as they comfortably triumphed over Carla Ward’s Villains at the Banks Stadium. A brace from Guro Reiten and a penalty from Pernille Harder ensured it ended Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea in the fourth round.
After the midweek victory over West Ham, Emma Hayes made 4 changes, returning to the 4-4-2 formation. Zecira Musovic came back into the net, with Jess Carter and Jonna Andersson at fullback alongside Aniek Nouwen and captain Millie Bright. Jessie Fleming and Drew Spence started in the centre of the pitch with Guro Reiten on the right, and new signing Alsu Abdullina making her first start on the left. Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder were up front.
Chelsea started with control and poise, dominating possession. Although they were missing a traditional centre-forward, the movement of Harder and Kirby caused problems for the rotated Aston Villa side. They got a deserved breakthrough on the 18th minute. Jess Carter crossed the ball into Reiten who turned brilliantly and curled into the far corner past a rooted Hannah Hampton.Embed from Getty Images
Ten minutes later, the next moment of note. Alsu Abudullina’s cross was controlled by Maz Pacheco, but she failed to notice Reiten pressing her inside the box. The Norwegian stole the ball and was clipped by Pacheco. Referee Abigail Byrne pointed to the spot and Pernille Harder confidently dispatched the penalty to double the lead.
Half-time, and it was plain sailing.
With the comfortable lead, Hayes rested Harder, bringing on Niamh Charles. On the 62nd minute, the Blues made the result completely sure. Fran Kirby darted into the box and cut the ball back to Reiten, just inside the box. She fired a rocket back past Hampton to make it 3-0. Sophie Ingle and Lauren James replaced Andersson and Kirby shortly after.Embed from Getty Images
With ten minutes left, it was a proud moment for Aimee Claypole and Emma Thompson as they made their debuts for the Champions, replacing Fleming and the impressive Abdullina. Chelsea didn’t manage to keep a clean sheet though, Niamh Charles fouled Ramona Petzelberger with the last kick of the game and she put the penalty away for a meagre consolation. It ended Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea as the Blues advance to the Fifth Round.
Full Time: Aston Villa 1-3 ChelseaEmbed from Getty Images
Final Thoughts: Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea
A good win in difficult circumstances, due to Chelsea missing players through injury, internationals and illness. They advance to the next round and will face Leicester City at Kingsmeadow. Up next, it’s another cup game: Manchester United in the Continental Cup Semi Final.