A goalkeeping masterclass from Brighton’s Sophie Baggaley wasn’t enough to prevent Chelsea from easing to a win to continue their unbeaten start to the Women’s Super League season.
In a six-goal thriller, the reigning champions earned a big three points, mostly thanks to a Sjouke Nüsken hat-trick.
The Blues started brightly and within five minutes, they nearly capitalised on Brighton giving away a cheap throw-in, as Fran Kirby smacked the crossbar from just inside the penalty area.
However, after eight minutes, it was the Seagulls who took a shock lead when Pauline Bremer turned home a Katie Robinson cross to silence Kingsmeadow.
Sophie Baggaley power shift
Chelsea started to crank up the pressure and with 25 minutes on the clock, Baggaley pulled the first of several rabbits out of the hat. She denied Nüsken from close range, after Sam Kerr and Kirby had linked up well.
Incredible one-on-one saves to thwart the duo followed before Chelsea hit the crossbar again after 37 minutes. More phenomenal goalkeeping followed to push the follow-up shot away and then, Baggaley somehow contorted her body to pull the ball from behind her and off the line. The ensuing scramble had the crowd on their feet in disbelief.
Barely a minute had passed before Chelsea were in again. A free-kick from Eve Perisset was headed back across goal to Kerr, who looked destined to score. But Baggaley was there again to take the ball off the Australian’s toes. Because of course she was.Embed from Getty Images
There was a brief moment of respite for the visitors as Robinson forced a smart stop from the returning Ann Katrin Berger.
Chelsea spark goal rush
Emma Hayes’ side finally made the breakthrough deep into first half stoppage time. Nüsken headed home Jess Carter’s cross to open up the Blues’ scoring for the day. The roar of relief from the Chelsea fans was palpable as Baggaley’s resistance was finally broken.
The second half was more of the same. Five minutes in, the Blues were ahead thanks to the tenacity of Kirby to win the ball back on the edge of her own box. Her pass forward to Kerr was played onto Nüsken who slammed the ball home.
Brighton nearly equalised moments later as they broke away, but Bremer’s effort from distance was well saved by Berger.Embed from Getty Images
Bremer had another great chance to level with 20 minutes to play. However, she headed just wide following great work from Veatriki Sarri down the right to create a crossing opportunity.
A couple of minutes later though, the champions made the game safe as Nüsken bagged her hat-trick. The German converted a Kerr cross from close range to make the score 3-1.
Aggie Beever-Jones notched her first senior Chelsea goal with 10 minutes to play, calmly sliding the ball past the outstretched leg of Baggaley as Nüsken turned provider for the youngster.
A late Elisabeth Terland goal was just a consolation for Brighton, as they reduced the arrears to make the score 4-2. But Chelsea were worth their win even if they were made to work for it.