Chelsea 5 - 0 Reading | WSL | 09.05.21

Chelsea retained their WSL title with a dominant 5 - 0 win over Reading at Kingsmeadow on Sunday.

Chelsea 5 - 0 Reading | WSL | 09.05.21

Chelsea retained their WSL title with a dominant 5 - 0 win over Reading. The away side, captained by retiring Fara Williams, played well in periods but were powerless to stop Hayes' juggernaut from clinching the first of what could be a landmark quadruple. Fran Kirby shone the brightest for the champions with two goals and an assist.

The home side got off to the best possible start at Kingsmeadow. Just after a minute, Jess Carter drilled her early corner to Melanie Leupolz on the edge of the area; after some good movement, she made solid contact to steer her shot under Moloney in the Reading net. Although unsighted, she would have expected to do better.

The Blues looked in the mood, dominating play with frequent forays into the Reading box—the movement of Ji and Harder in the middle, a particular thorn in visitors' side. The Royals managed to gain some composure, and with Chelse's full-backs advancing, they had a few openings. On the right side, Harding had a couple of opportunities to find Harries in the area, but Ann-Katrin Berger was alert on both occasions to claim.

The Blues responded by turning up the pressure. Leupolz, involved again, fizzed a pass into Ji; though surrounded by three Reading defenders, the South Korean laid off a first-time pass to Kerr drifting in behind. Reading defender Cooper did well to smoother as Kerr's effort left Maloney wrong-footed; luckily for her, it trickled out for a corner, luckily for her, it tr. Not long after, it was Harder's turn to drift into an advanced central position. She floated an inviting pass toward Kirby, who had made a great run inside. With the striker poised to finish, the ball was stolen off her foot by full-back Leine who'd diligently tracked the Englishwoman's run.

The Royals continued to remind Chelsea of their presence. After the half-hour, Leine, fresh from her expert defensive play, ventured forward and found Rowe after Batrip's long pass. Rowe had more time than she realised, misplacing a pass meant for Harding attacking the Chelsea box. With a bit more finesse, she could have found Harries making a dart to her left.

Reading did well and continued to exert themselves, passing the ball around confidently before snapping into tackles when possession was lost. Unsurprisingly, embodied most by Fara Williams, who at 37 in her last professional game, is riding off into the sunset with more than enough talent to still hang with the best of them.

For all of the visitors' good work, they were up against brutal practitioners; Chelsea doubled their lead just before the end of the first half. Fran Kirby, occupying a central berth, played a pass into her strike partner, Kerr, running in behind. While continuing her run, Kerr returned a ball to the edge of the six-yard area, which Kirby dispatched with aplomb. The 50th goal they have combined to score - it would not be their last of the afternoon. Their devastating partnership has powered Chelsea to another successful campaign.

Reading started the second period brightly. James' strike from range deflected away for a corner. Williams's clever attempt to catch Berger at her near post was smartly stopped by the German from the resulting set-piece. Just before the hour, the visitors had another chance to strike back. Williams started the play again, strode forward before playing a pass into Dan Carter on the halfway line. Her first-time ball found Brooke Chaplen. The forward, who replaced Harries at the break, feinted to shoot before cutting back inside. Her delay allowed Ericsson enough time to get back and block. A warning for the champions-elect.

Not a minute later, Chelsea showed their ruthlessness again. The deadly duo combined to secure the title. Running in behind, Kerr turned to find Kirby on the edge of D. The striker moved the ball onto her left foot before unleashing a fierce left-footed drive to the top corner of the Reading net. Moloney helpless.

Reading responded excellently again, with Chaplen and Carter combining skillfully for an effort on the Chelsea goal. Carter's left-footed drive finished wide with Berger stranded. Reading had played well, but with 20 minutes to play, they received another dagger from the Champions. Naturally, it was those two again. Kerr, in her pursuit of the golden boot, finally got in on the act. After Kirby's beautiful scooped pass forward, the Australian calmly volleyed home to rub in their supremacy.

Chelsea, at this point, cruelly picking off their opponents, found a fifth. From a corner, Kerr's header was palmed back into the danger area; the loose ball fell to Erin Cuthbert, who had come on a few minutes prior. Emma Hayes looked delighted to see her side not letting up with their maiden Champions League final only seven days away.

The hosts were too much to handle today. Never satisfied, Kirby and Cutherbert had efforts for a sixth, but 5 - 0 it finished. Jubilant scenes as the final whistle blew at Kingsmeadow. Magdalena Eriksson proudly lifted the WSL trophy aloft with her teammates ecstatic in celebration. One down, three to go for Chelsea. History awaits in Gothenburg next Sunday, but for today they remain the pride of English Women's football. On a day when the country said goodbye to its most capped footballer, her former club delivered a stellar performance to become WSL's most successful side and march confidently to Sweden next week.