Chelsea Women vs Liverpool Women. Women's Super League.
Match report from the Women's Super League game between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge as a hat-trick from the unplayable Lauren James and one goal each from Aggie Beever-Jones and Sjoeke Nusken help Emma Hayes' Blues increase their lead at the top of the table to six points
Sunday 19 November 2023 07:51, UK
Lauren James scored a superb hat-trick as Chelsea emphatically increased their lead at the top of the WSL to six points with a 5-1 win over Liverpool.
The England forward had a hand in all five Chelsea goals on a memorable afternoon at the Bridge.
James rolled in the opener after 11 minutes to reward the Blues' fast start, with Aggie Beever-Jones' header restoring their lead after Jess Carter's own goal had levelled proceedings.
The England star netted her stunning second when she arrowed in from close-range following impressive hold-up play from Sam Kerr and ensured she left with the match ball after finishing off Johanna Rytting Kaneryd's square pass.
Rytting Kaneryd set up the fifth of the day, too, laying the ball on a plate for Sjoeke Nusken to complete the rout with 12 minutes to play.
Chelsea move six points clear of second-placed Arsenal in the table as a result of their sixth win of the season, while Liverpool stay down in fifth. They could be leapfrogged by Manchester City on Sunday if they win the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.
Chelsea started like a house on fire, delivering the fast start Emma Hayes had called for earlier in the season. Inside the first five minutes, a dangerous Niamh Charles cross was blocked, a shot from James was punched away and a deflection took Erin Cuthbert's shot from 20 yards just over the bar.
So it came as no surprise when the Blues took the lead. Sophie Ingle played a fine ball out to James on the left, where she faced up to Gemma Bonner and rolled a shot into the opposite corner.
Within seconds of the game restarting, though, Liverpool were level. Two split-second lapses in concentration allowed Shanice Van de Sanden to advance into the box and square across the area, with the unfortunate Carter diverting the ball into her own net.
Just as the game started to become more open, Chelsea got themselves ahead for the second time. The irrepressible James received the ball on the overlap and sent in the delivery of dreams, which Beever-Jones headed down and in.
Just 10 minutes after the break, the game was taken away from Liverpool. Kerr held the ball up well and, with three players around her, dropped it off to James who took a couple of touches and arrowed an effort into the bottom left corner.
Reds boss Matt Beard was then left furious when his side were not granted a penalty after Erin Cuthbert appeared to clatter into Ceri Holland just inside the area.
James added a her third and Chelsea's fourth when she buried Rytting Kaneryd's cross, moments after the Swede's introduction - and even had a hand in the fifth by playing the ball through the eye of a needle to Rytting Kaneryd, who set up Nusken to add the gloss.
Sky Sports' Dan Long at Stamford Bridge:
"It goes without saying who took this accolade on a rainy Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
"Everyone knows about the talent of Lauren James, but what a privilege it was to see her at her unstoppable best in the flesh. A cut above every other player on the pitch, she looked menacing every time she received the ball and showed just why every defence in the country fears coming up against her talent.
"Three goals and one assist doesn't even illustrate just how good she was here."
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes:
"A perfect game would have been a clean sheet, but considering none of us really slept Wednesday night and we've been in hotels since last weekend, it was a tremendous response from the whole squad.
"They know my aim has been to build a team this year where we could move seamlessly between games, so I've been doing some different things with coaching to make sure everyone's even more ready and I really enjoyed the game. I enjoyed the young guns, but I was really pleased for Sophie [Ingle] and Maren [Mjelde] who guided the ship.
"We haven't won anything, we just won a game. But in terms of performance and chances created and our general attacking play, I'm responsible for the attacking play of the team and I'm really happy to see the team carry out the ideas we've been working on and I can see we're growing in confidence. I don't know the xG, but I thought every time we got in behind we were going to score.
"The work Lauren did out of possession was outstanding. The way she back-pressed, the way she counter-pressed, the way she shut off the pitch in the right moments. She dominated her duels, she did it for 90 minutes. I think she was selfless in her work. I thought it was outstanding."
Chelsea play their second Champions League group fixture on Thursday when they host Paris FC, before hosting Leicester on Sunday November 26 in the WSL; kick-off 2pm.
Liverpool take on Manchester United in the Conti Cup on Wednesday, before hosting Brighton in the WSL on Sunday November 26; kick-off 2pm.