Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Sam Kerr’s double leads Chelsea to emphatic WSL win over Everton

Last season’s Women’s Super League top scorer Sam Kerr scored twice as Chelsea dismantled Everton 4-0 at Kingsmeadow.

Kerr’s double was added to by the PFA player of the year Fran Kirby and the England forward Beth England to condemn Everton to their second 4-0 defeat just two games in, prompting Everton women’s commercial and sporting director Sarvar Ismailov to tweet “unacceptable” after an aggressive summer spend.

Perhaps fuelled by the frustration of an opening day 3-2 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, Chelsea exploded to life in front of a buoyant, flag waving and vocal home crowd. It was time to wipe the slate clean.

“Everybody blows the first game of the season out of proportion,” Chelsea’s manager Emma Hayes said ahead of their first home game of the season. Except in a 12-team league every game matters, especially against title rivals. Hayes though had not started with her strongest XI, with Kerr and Kirby sat on the bench having not had much time off following the Olympic Games.

Everton too had struggled in their opening game of the season, enduring a 4-0 defeat against Manchester City at Goodison Park. The manager Willie Kirk had recruited heavily over the summer and built a squad many have felt is capable of upsetting the stranglehold of the established top three of City, Chelsea and Arsenal but the size of the gap was clear last Saturday.

There was some surprise then that against the champions Kirk chose to stick with his back three Nathalie Bjorn, Gabby George and Megan Finnigan who had been brutally exposed the preceding weekend. Everton’s back line though was far more organised with the wing-backs Nicoline Sorensen and Danielle Turner slotting in alongside the trio to work as a back five as wave after wave of Chelsea attack swarmed over the halfway line.

With Bjorn perhaps identified as the weak link, Chelsea attacked repeatedly down their left flank with the European player of the year Pernille Harder and the Norwegian forward Guro Reiten putting the pressure on.

It was from this side that Chelsea would find their way through in the 25th minute. Midfielder Ji So-yun released Kirby and the England forward stepped around Bjorn before flicking her chipped effort coolly in at the far post, with the ball taking the lightest of deflections off the head of Finnigan on the way.

Much like last season, where Kirby and Kerr battled with Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema for the golden boot, the fulcrum of Chelsea’s fine forward play was the Danish forward Harder, who looked on a one-woman mission to atone for the team’s display against Arsenal.

Within a short space of time, the former Wolfsburg forward was played free through the middle only to find herself crowded out before she could get her shot away, slipped the ball agonisingly along the face of goal and just wide of the far post and then blasted the side netting. It would be Kerr though that would pounce to extend the lead of the home team shortly after the break. The goalkeeper Sandy MacIver played the ball square to Finnigan inside the area and, with Kerr lurking, the centre-back inexplicably played a sluggish return pass that Kerr intercepted and rolled into the empty net.

In the space of five minutes Chelsea doubled their tally. First Kerr’s powerful downward header from a Reiten cross beat MacIver and then another cross from Reiten found Erin Cuthbert, the Scotland forward crashed her strike against the bar and newly introduced England poked in the rebound.

It was a deserved margin of victory with Everton failing to trouble the Chelsea defence with just five shots to Chelsea’s 27, with two and seven on target respectively.

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