Chelsea 5-0 Reading: Emma Hayes' side retain WSL title with win


Chelsea retained their Women’s Super League title as Fran Kirby scored twice in their ruthless victory over Reading.

Knowing a final-day win would crown them champions, Melanie Leupolz put the hosts ahead with a half-volley from a low corner after just 68 seconds.

Kirby guided a second into the top corner and again linked up with Sam Kerr to power home after the interval.

Golden boot winner Kerr volleyed past Grace Moloney from Kirby’s lofted pass and Erin Cuthbert bundled in a fifth.

Second-placed Manchester City won at West Ham to finish two points behind as runners-up, but needed Chelsea to slip up to have a chance of snatching top spot.

England’s record appearance holder Fara Williams captained Reading in her final game before retiring as the Royals finish the season seventh.

Emma Hayes’ side have already won the League Cup this season and clinching a fourth WSL title moves the Blues a step closer to a historic quadruple.

They face Barcelona in the Women’s Champions League final next Sunday, and have a last-16 Women’s FA Cup tie against Everton to come on 20 May.

Leupolz’s neat opener, which went through Royals keeper Moloney, was the fastest WSL goal of the season though Chelsea were not at their swashbuckling best in the first half at Kingsmeadow and had to be patient until England forward Kirby’s sidefooted finish after a one-two with Kerr.

Williams was denied a farewell goal against her old club by the alert Ann-Katrin Berger and once Kirby scored her second before the hour mark, Hayes took off Ji So-yun, Pernille Harder and Niamh Charles with an eye on next weekend’s European final in Gothenburg.

Kerr’s goal made her just the second woman to pass 20 goals in a WSL season – after Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema in 2018-19 – while substitute Cuthbert put the icing on the Chelsea cake late on.

Kerr-by combo conquers again

Sam Kerr (left) and Fran Kirby celebrate
Sam Kerr (left) and Fran Kirby combined for three goals against Reading

The partnership struck up by Kirby and Australia striker Kerr has led to them becoming known as ‘Kerr-by’ by supporters.

And when either of them scored in the title-clinching triumph it was the other one who set them up.

The pair have scored a staggering 52 goals between them in all competitions and have a near telepathic understanding when the ball is in the final third, with their movement and weight of pass entirely in sync.

But the list of standout Chelsea players this season is a long one.

Germany goalkeeper Berger won the WSL’s golden glove with 12 clean sheets this season, edging out unfortunate Manchester City keeper Ellie Roebuck who missed their final league match on Sunday with an ankle injury.

Having won last season’s WSL on points per game after the season was curtailed by coronavirus, it will feel sweet for Hayes and co to have retained their crown on the pitch.

Reading midfielder Fara Williams (left) poses with Chelsea manager Emma Hayes before her final WSL game
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes (right) presented Fara Williams with a signed shirt and flowers before her final game before retirement

Line-ups

Chelsea Women

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 30Berger
  • 21CharlesSubstituted forAnderssonat 58′minutes
  • 4Bright
  • 16Eriksson
  • 7CarterSubstituted forBlundellat 69′minutes
  • 8LeupolzSubstituted forFlemingat 69′minutes
  • 5Ingle
  • 14Kirby
  • 23HarderSubstituted forCuthbertat 58′minutes
  • 10JiSubstituted forReitenat 58′minutes
  • 20Kerr

Substitutes

  • 1Musovic
  • 3Blundell
  • 9England
  • 11Reiten
  • 17Fleming
  • 22Cuthbert
  • 24Spence
  • 25Andersson
  • 28Telford

Reading Women

Formation 4-5-1

  • 1Moloney
  • 2Leine
  • 14Cooper
  • 5Bartrip
  • 31RobertsSubstituted forEikelandat 78′minutes
  • 11Harding
  • 4Williams
  • 23Rowe
  • 6James
  • 18Carter
  • 36HarriesSubstituted forChaplenat 45′minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Jeon
  • 9Eikeland
  • 16Nayler
  • 19Chaplen
  • 24Flores
  • 32Childerhouse

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