WSL: Chelsea put four past Leicester City to regain top spot

Catarina Macario of Chelsea celebrates scoring her team's fourth goal
Catarina Macario of Chelsea celebrates scoring her team's fourth goal during the Barclays Women's Super League match vs Leicester City (Photo by Morgan Harlow/Getty Images)

The final Women’s Super League instalment of the weekend saw Leicester City face Chelsea under the lights at the King Power Stadium. The reigning champions secured another three points towards their title defence after a 4-0 win on the road.

The Foxes held their own for the first 30 minutes but couldn’t capitalise on early chances from Jutta Rantala and Yuka Momiki count. Five minutes from the break, Chelsea broke the deadlock with a quick-fire double — first from the acrobatic Nathalie Björn, and then Mayra Ramírez.

The second half was more of the same with Leicester missing chances and Chelsea capitalising. The Blues’ third goal was a deflected finish from Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, followed by a fourth for debutant Catarina Macario.

The three points send Chelsea back to the top of the tree on goal difference. This was just Leicester’s third defeat since the New Year, and they remain seventh in the WSL table.

Starting XIs

Leicester City

Kop; Nevin, Tierney, Bott, Rantala, Whelan, Cayman, Green, Takarada, Thibaud, Momiki

Chelsea

Hampton; Perisset, Bjorn, Carter, Charles, Nusken, Cuthbert, Cankovic, Reiten, Kaneryd, Ramirez

A milestone achievement was celebrated prior to kick-off for Sam Tierney. She achieved her 100th appearance in Leicester colours — the first women’s player to reach the landmark for the club.

The first half

In the first outing after a two week international break, Chelsea looked dangerous from kick-off. January signing Ramírez looked strong, and immediately in a battle with Leicester City defender Julie Thibaud.

However, Leicester found themselves getting chances in attack and Rantala fired straight into the gloves of Hannah Hampton. Then, Japanese international Momiki forced another smart save.

With Chelsea having won all six previous matches against Leicester, it certainly felt like they had more of a match on their hands than in previous meetings. The Foxes’ fourth shot on target in the first half saw Rantala once again test Hampton, before Momiki latched onto the rebound. However, she only managed to see her low effort glance off the upright and stay out.

Then, five minutes before the break, the visitors broke the deadlock. Chelsea whipped in a corner that Leicester failed to deal with, and Björn lifted the ball over Lize Kop and the despairing Josie Green, who tried in vain to head it over the bar.

Chelsea then doubled their lead. Thibaud was dispossessed by Ramírez high up the pitch, who rounded Kop and slid the ball into an empty net in front of the travelling fans.

The second half

Leicester continued to press and the first chance fell to the non-stop Momiki, who again could only find the gloves of the Chelsea goalkeeper from the edge of the box. Just beyond the hour mark, Chelsea put the game to bed with a third. Rytting-Kaneryd found space on the right wing, and fired an effort towards goal, taking a deflection off Janice Cayman.

Leicester City looked out of energy. It was a surprise that Kirk didn’t look to the more experienced duo of Aimee Palmer and Remi Siemsen from the bench. Instead, he went with academy players Ava Baker and Denny Draper. The pair looked keen, but were unable to add quality in the final third.

Chelsea took advantage of this and scored their fourth goal of the evening. It was one to celebrate for Blues fans when substitute Macario, returning from an ACL and on her debut, fired low under the Leicester goalkeeper from inside the penalty area. The 4-0 scoreline felt harsh for a hard-working home side but it sends Chelsea top of the WSL on goal difference. Leicester stay in seventh.

Leicester did see the return from injury of striker Lena Petermann, who will be integral to the Foxes through the remainder of the season with their growing injury list.

What’s up next?

Chelsea have back-to-back away cup ties next week. First up, a trip to Manchester City for a Continental Tyres League Cup semi-final on Thursday evening. Next on Sunday, they play Everton in the FA Cup. Leicester City have a cup match of their own to dust themselves off for facing Liverpool on Saturday in the FA Cup.

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