Chelsea 5-2 Leicester City: Lauren James stars for Emma Hayes' leaders

Lauren James celebrates with Johanna Rytting Kaneryd
Chelsea have won their last 19 WSL home games, a competition record run stretching back to February 2022

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.”


Chelsea Women

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 30Berger
  • 15Périsset
  • 18MjeldeSubstituted forNouwenat 86′minutes
  • 7Carter
  • 21CharlesSubstituted forLawrenceat 74′minutes
  • 5Ingle
  • 22Cuthbert
  • 19Rytting Kaneryd
  • 14KirbySubstituted forBeever-Jonesat 74′minutes
  • 10JamesSubstituted forNüskenat 74′minutes
  • 20KerrSubstituted forFlemingat 81′minutes


  • 1Musovic
  • 2Fishel
  • 3Nouwen
  • 6Nüsken
  • 12Lawrence
  • 17Fleming
  • 24Hampton
  • 26Buchanan
  • 33Beever-Jones

Leicester City Women

Formation 3-4-3

  • 1Leitzig
  • 17ThibaudBooked at 75minsSubstituted forGreenat 76′minutes
  • 5HowardBooked at 33mins
  • 2Nevin
  • 4Bott
  • 6PalmerSubstituted forCainat 45′minutes
  • 3Tierney
  • 11Cayman
  • 10Whelan
  • 9PetermannBooked at 48minsSubstituted forSiemsenat 76′minutes
  • 8RantalaSubstituted forGoodwinat 76′minutes


  • 13Robinson
  • 14Green
  • 19Siemsen
  • 20Goodwin
  • 21Cain
  • 23Kop
  • 32Baker
  • 47Sherwood
  • 49Draper

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