Chelsea thrashed Albanian Champions KS Vllaznia 8-0 thanks to hat-tricks from Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr. Katerina Svitkova also notched her first goal for the Blues to round off their stunning Champions League group stage win.
After defeating Paris Saint-Germain away last week, Chelsea were in pole position in Group A. In contrast, Vllaznia were mired to the bottom of the group after losing 2-0 at home to Real Madrid.
From the first whistle, the visitors were under the cosh. Chelsea controlled possession effectively and boxed their opponents in. They had countless early shots and opportunities, however, they were thwarted by stalwart defending and some sharp saves from Kaylin Conner Williams-Mosier in goal.
Nonetheless, Chelsea did get the breakthrough after 10 minutes. Harder was the architect, fizzing a terrific ball into Kerr. The Australian striker had struggled for sharpness so far this season. However, she showed signs of her old self as she deftly floated the finish past Williams.
Although Chelsea continued to monopolise possession and create all the chances, they were guilty at times of overplaying. Harder, Kerr, Guro Reiten and Jessie Fleming all spurned good opportunities.Embed from Getty Images
Meanwhile, Williams continued to put in work in the Vllaznia goal. Despite this, the contest was effectively over in the 37th minute. Harder’s pass out to Reiten invited the Norwegian attacker to deliver low first-time into the box. Kerr was waiting at the far post, who slotted in from close-range to make it Chelsea 2-0 Vllaznia.
The scoreline increased barely a minute later. Again, Reiten was pulling the strings, with another low ball into the box. This time, Harder turned scorer to expertly stroke home into the far corner.
Chelsea being 3-0 up did not flatter the home side at half-time. However, the visitors had not been completely bowled over and their fans continued in good voice.
Chelsea came out all guns blazing once again, and once more good saves from Williams prevented another quick change to the scoreline. It did however, alter in the 57th minute.
Once again, Reiten was the creator. Her near-post corner was met by a crowd of Chelsea players and flicked into the far corner. After some confusion over who the goal came from, it was Chelsea’s Australian striker who unknowingly had a perfect hat-trick.
However, it only took for the 60th minute for her to knowingly score again. Once more, Harder started the move with a line-breaking pass. Reiten’s cut-back found Kerr inside the box and she finished off the easy chance. The trademark backflip was fitting tribute to the four-goal haul.Embed from Getty Images
Chelsea rang the changes a minute later with Jess Carter, Bethany England and Katerina Svitkova replacing the impressive Kerr, Charles and Jo Kaneryd.
A sixth goal arrived on the 72nd minute. Once again, it was a Reiten cross — this time another corner — which found England. Although her header was blocked on the line, the ball popped up kindly for Harder to jab home. Reiten was replaced minutes later with four assists to her name.
Alsu Abdullina took her place to make her first appearance of the season.
She found herself capping that first appearance just a few minutes later with a sumptuous assist. After a neat one-two with Harder, the winger crossed perfectly for Svitkova to power home her first Chelsea goal with a bullet header.
The Blues grabbed the eighth with two minutes of normal time left. Eve Perisset’s tantalising ball was fumbled by substitute keeper Viona Rexhepi. Svitkova hammered goalwards, but her effort was blocked. However, it again fell kindly for Harder.
The Dane capped off her fine performance with a deserved hat-trick to complete the rout.Embed from Getty Images
Chelsea run riot
The rout leaves the Blues in charge of their Champions League destiny, with a home tie against Real Madrid next up. They have the maximum six points available so far, and a very healthy +9 goal difference.
Before that, there is more WSL action at Kingsmeadow on Sunday. Chelsea host Aston Villa at Kingsmeadow – it will be difficult for that fixture to be as dramatic as last season’s equivalent.