Chelsea thrash Reading to return to top of WSL

Sam Kerr and Beth England scored twice apiece as Chelsea returned to the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League with a comprehensive 5-0 home win over Reading.

Jessie Fleming scored the other goal as the Blues avenged the surprise loss suffered in December’s reverse fixture.

Chelsea struggled to turn early possession into good chances; Guro Reiten’s low 20th-minute free-kick was easily saved, while Fleming’s looping shot four minutes later went just over the bar.

Reading’s best chance fell to Faye Bryson in the 27th minute, but her dipping shot was comfortably gathered by Zecira Musovic.

Reiten’s 35th minute corner was turned towards goal by England but her powerful header was straight at Grace Moloney.

Chelsea’s opener came just before the 40-minute mark, Fleming controlling an England header with her chest before firing home a composed low finish from the middle of the penalty area.

The hosts struck again after the restart, Reiten’s blistering cross in the 52nd minute was rifled home iniside the near post by England.

Kerr’s first came with 25 minutes remaining, Reiten stole the ball off the last defender before squaring to the Australian for an easy tap-in.

Erin Cuthbert delivered the cross for Kerr’s second 12 minutes later, the striker picking her spot for her seventh goal in her last five appearances.

Reading’s misery was compounded when they conceded a stoppage-time penalty, which was dispatched by England who blasted her effort into the top corner past Maloney.

Chelsea’s next match is the FA Cup semi-final at Arsenal in a fortnight, while Reading have three weeks until their home league match with West Ham.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said: “I thought we had a good energy about us in the first half, but we had to grind them down. Reading worked hard off the ball, 18 passes and four switches of play for the first goal, I felt we needed to do more of that. It was a wonderful finish from Jessie Fleming. It really helped to come in at half-time one-nil up, but I didn’t feel stressed.

“Second half, I thought the execution of the last part was what was missing. I said to Guro [Reiten] at half-time that the final ball needed to be better, we needed to provide more service for the front two, and we did that.

“It was a lovely ball into Beth [England] and a superb finish. It was a really good press for the third, Guro then played Sam Kerr in. I thought we were outstanding, especially in the second half.”

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