Lauren James starred as Chelsea continued their unbeaten start in the Women’s Super League with an entertaining victory over Leicester City at Kingsmeadow.
England forward James opened the scoring with only 70 seconds on the clock as she pounced on Sam Tierney’s poor pass and calmly slotted in.
The 22-year-old was played through by Sam Kerr just three minutes later and, although her shot was saved by Janina Leitzig, the ball rebounded off Courtney Nevin to double the hosts’ advantage.
Leicester, to their credit, did not panic and the improving visitors got their reward when Jutta Rantala fired in after being picked out by Lena Petermann.
Chelsea sought to reassert themselves before half-time and believed they had done that when Kerr provided the finishing touch to Niamh Charles’ cross.
But Tierney reduced the deficit from close range after Aimee Palmer’s free-kick had been superbly saved by Ann-Katrin Berger, the Chelsea stopper having escaped any punishment for fouling Petermann outside the penalty area.
A delightful chipped finish by James before the hour mark – her sixth goal of the campaign – ultimately put the result beyond Leicester’s reach, and Agnes Beever-Jones added a fifth when the substitute headed in Eve Perisset’s cross.
Victory ensured Emma Hayes’ side maintained their three-point advantage over upcoming opponents Arsenal at the top of the table, while Leicester’s winless run extended to a sixth match.
Leicester show fight against superior Chelsea
To say Chelsea have dominated WSL meetings with Leicester would be an understatement.
Coming into this latest encounter, Hayes’ side had won their four league matches against the Foxes by an aggregate score of 25-0 – and the past four in all competitions 30-0.
Having seen Chelsea put five past Liverpool last weekend before Kerr’s hat-trick helped the Blues to a 4-1 win over Paris FC in the Women’s Champions League on Thursday, the signs appeared ominous for the visitors.
Any hopes Leicester harboured of causing an upset were dented within little more than four minutes as James, full of confidence following her treble in the 5-1 win over Liverpool, proved too sharp for the slow-starting Foxes.
But unlike previous occasions, Leicester refused to collapse. Instead, Rantala’s lifeline came following a positive period for Willie Kirk’s side, who recovered admirably from their nightmare start – and again when Chelsea restored their two-goal lead.
Catherine Bott’s goalline clearance crucially prevented Charles further extending Chelsea’s lead before Tierney scored the fifth goal of an eventful first half to give Leicester real hope at the break.
However, a touch of quality from James, lifting the ball over Leitzig as the Leicester goalkeeper rushed out, allowed Chelsea to relax and Hayes’ side had few further concerns as Beever-Jones’ late goal completed a seventh victory in their opening eight matches.
Chelsea’s pursuit of a fifth successive league title before manager Hayes departs to become the new manager of the United States women’s team continues at title rivals Arsenal following the international break.
“Sometimes when you go up so early in a game you can get complacent,” Hayes said. “We switched off and gave away two cheap goals but it was a really good attacking display and we were so threatening going forward.”
On James, Hayes added: “She has been tremendous. Three games in a week, it’s the first time she has done that in a while, so credit to her. She has recovered well.”
- 18MjeldeSubstituted forNouwenat 86′minutes
- 21CharlesSubstituted forLawrenceat 74′minutes
- 19Rytting Kaneryd
- 14KirbySubstituted forBeever-Jonesat 74′minutes
- 10JamesSubstituted forNüskenat 74′minutes
- 20KerrSubstituted forFlemingat 81′minutes
Leicester City Women
- 17ThibaudBooked at 75minsSubstituted forGreenat 76′minutes
- 5HowardBooked at 33mins
- 6PalmerSubstituted forCainat 45′minutes
- 9PetermannBooked at 48minsSubstituted forSiemsenat 76′minutes
- 8RantalaSubstituted forGoodwinat 76′minutes
Match ends, Chelsea Women 5, Leicester City Women 2.
Second Half ends, Chelsea Women 5, Leicester City Women 2.
Attempt missed. Sophie Ingle (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Aniek Nouwen following a corner.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Catherine Bott.
Foul by Sophie Ingle (Chelsea Women).
Hannah Cain (Leicester City Women) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Sjoeke Nüsken (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Ève Périsset with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Sam Tierney.
Attempt missed. Sam Tierney (Leicester City Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Hannah Cain with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Leicester City Women. Conceded by Aniek Nouwen.
Attempt blocked. Missy Goodwin (Leicester City Women) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Goal! Chelsea Women 5, Leicester City Women 2. Agnes Beever-Jones (Chelsea Women) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ève Périsset.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Aniek Nouwen replaces Maren Mjelde.
Attempt saved. Courtney Nevin (Leicester City Women) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Janice Cayman.
Attempt saved. Missy Goodwin (Leicester City Women) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Courtney Nevin with a cross.
Corner, Leicester City Women. Conceded by Maren Mjelde.
Offside, Leicester City Women. Aileen Whelan tries a through ball, but Remy Siemsen is caught offside.
Foul by Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Women).
Aileen Whelan (Leicester City Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Jessie Fleming replaces Sam Kerr.