WSL: Chelsea v Leicester City
Chelsea put on another punishing display at Kingsmeadow netting six goals against Leicester City
13 May 2023
Chelsea were convincing 6-0 winners over Leicester City in the Women’s Super League on Wednesday evening at Kingsmeadow. Pernille Harder scored twice with the other goals coming from Guro Reiten, Erin Cuthbert, Lauren James and Jelena Cankovic. This made it 13 goals in their last two games for the Blues following their 7-0 win over Everton at the weekend. The win sees them move a point behind Manchester United at the top of the WSL with a game in hand. Leicester remain two points above Reading at the bottom of the table after this defeat.
Chelsea made six changes from that Everton win including Harder making her first start since November 2022. Manager Emma Hayes said after the match that all these changes are “seamless because of the work they have done throughout the season to ready all of the players”. Katerina Svitkova and Kadeisha Buchanan were named on the bench for the first time after injuries.
Leicester made three changes from their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on Friday evening. Manager Willie Kirk said afterwards that Ashleigh Plumptre was missing as on four bookings and didn’t want to risk her getting another one in this match. Shannon O’Brien was named as a substitute for the first time since injury and came on during the second half.
The Blues had a couple of early corners with first being headed behind then the second one caught by Janina Leitzig. A Reiten cross was put behind after a nice pass from Niamh Charles shortly after.
Chelsea took the lead in the 8th minute. Harder’s cross from the right side found Reiten who finished from close-range.
The home side went looking for a quick second goal but Cuthbert put her effort into side netting two minutes later. Harder then saw an effort from close-range blocked by Leitzig in the 14th minute. James was allowed to run to edge of area before sending a shot wide two minutes after that.
Cuthbert scored her 50th goal for the club when she won the ball in midfield, advanced on goal before rounding the goalkeeper and finishing low into the net to make it 2-0 to the Blues in the 18th minute.
A Leicester free kick into the area lead to a slight scramble before the ball was cleared. The home side immediately went down the other end and Reiten headed wide.
Remy Siemsen’s cross from the right side hit the outside of the post for the Foxes and went behind for a goal kick. Cankovic sent in a cross that James headed into the Leicester goalkeepers hands.
Chelsea made it 3-0 in the 32nd minute when James’ low shot was parried by Leitzig in the direction of Harder who tapped in almost on the line.
Harder scored her second of the match and Chelsea’s fourth in the 42nd minute. She received the ball and run towards goal before sending a low shot that took a slight deflection into the net.
Nice build up from the hosts finished with an Eve Perisset bundled effort saved. Leicester had a chance during the one minute of first half stoppage time but Remy Siemsen put it wide.
The home side went looking for more goals in the second half with James running across the edge of the area before sending a shot over four minutes into it. Leitzig then kept out a James effort at near post in the 53rd minute.
James did make it 5-0 for the Blues in the 56th minute. She picked the ball up on the right side, cut into the area then smashed a shot into the top corner of the net.
Chelsea continued having chances with a James effort across goal being deflected just wide just after the hour mark. Harder then headed wide after a succession of corners.
Chelsea made a quadruple substitution in the 65th minute. This led to some positional changes for players including Charles moving into an attacking role. Emma Hayes admitted afterwards that they lost momentum after making these changes. Buchanan came on a bit later meaning Sam Kerr was rested on the bench before the FA Cup final on Sunday.
Leicester were having the odd opportunity and Sam Tierney put an effort not far wide in the 69th minute.
The Blues almost scored a sixth in the 85th minute but Jessie Fleming was denied by a good save from Leitzig, just as the heavens opened. Jemma Purfield dragged a shot wide for the Foxes two minutes from the end.
Cankovic completed the scoring for the home side deep into stoppage time with a cracking finish from 18-yards. This turned out to be the last kick of the game as the referee blew the final whistle seconds later.
Emma Hayes thought it was a “comfortable first half performance” for her side then added they have to prepare for a “big games programme” so she had to make decisions during the second half thinking ahead.
She remarked she is happy with the team and they are “coming into form at the right time of the season, and a lot of players are in form”. Hayes continued by saying “confidence is really high right now, we are in the best place we have been in all season”. She said she likes chasing others (Manchester United) and “this position is fun.” She concluded by saying “we like pressure, we want it, we don’t do well without it.”
Willie Kirk said after the match when speaking to the media that “it had been a tough night and Chelsea punished us for ever mistake we made. They scored some good goals as well but we gave them a few easily”. He added that even though they were a bit understrength, he still expected a slightly stronger performance from his side and they weren’t at their best. He praised Chelsea saying they “have a fantastic squad”.
Chelsea face Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday before taking on West Ham away next Wednesday then Arsenal at home in the league. Leicester don’t play again until Sunday 21st May when they play West Ham United at the King Power Stadium in the WSL.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Berger, Perisset, Carter, Eriksson (c) (Buchanan 76’), Charles, Leupolz, Cuthbert (Ingle 65’), James (Kaneryd 65’), Cankovic, Reiten (Abdullina 65’), Harder (Fleming 65’)
Unused substitutes: Musovic, Svitkova, Mjelde, Kerr
Goal – Reiten 8’, Cuthbert 18’, Harder 32’, 42’, James 56’, Cankovic 90’+3
Booked - Fleming
Leicester City (4-2-3-1): Leitzig, Bott, Purfield, Mace, Nevin, Green (Robinson 64’), Tierney, Siemsen (O’Brien 75’), Goodwin, Whelan (c), Cain (Pike 75’)
Unused substitutes: Lambourne, Levell, Jones, Smith, Reavill
Booked - Cain
Referee – Rebecca Welch
Attendance – 1,308