Chelsea close gap by crushing West Ham

Pernille Harder scored twice as Chelsea won 4-1 at West Ham to move within five points of Women’s Super League leaders Arsenal.

Additional goals from Niamh Charles and Sam Kerr helped the Blues cruise in their first match since Saturday’s Conti Cup final defeat. Iceland’s Dagny Brynjarsdottir scored a consolation for the hosts.

Earlier in the day, the west London side were sanctioned by the government due to Roman Abramovich’s ownership of the club.

Chelsea captain Millie Bright hit the frame of the goal with a header in the opening minute.

The visitors broke the deadlock in the 21st minute. Jonna Andersson’s pass allowed Harder to sprint into the box and blast the ball in the opposite corner.

Charles made it two three minutes later, with a rocket from the edge of the penalty area deflecting over Mackenzie Arnold.

West Ham had a positive spell, Tameka Yallop’s shot from distance forcing Zecira Musovic to tip it wide. From the corner, the Swede smothered Claudia Walker’s attempt in a goalmouth scramble.

Ji So-Yun’s cross was perfectly floated in for Harder to head home Chelsea’s third after 33 minutes.

West Ham got the second half off to the best possible start, with Hammers’ leading scorer Brynjarsdottir finishing Kate Longhurst’s whipped cross.

Kerr made it four just after the hour, picking up possession from a ricochet in the box before placing it low past fellow Aussie Arnold.

Substitute Lois Joel had a couple of late chances for the Hammers, but they were easily caught by Musovic as the match fizzled out.

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said: “I’m delighted after that performance. It was nice to think about football for 90 minutes. I’ll leave here, go home and watch it back, prepare for Sunday’s game.

“Routine is absolutely key. I want to focus on doing my best for the team, and make sure we perform. I’m really pleased with what I’ve just seen.

“[Players] I think they did an amazing job. The staff said it to them at the end. It’s important we control what we can. When we step on the pitch, we focus on putting points on the board. It’s a tricky game to play.

“It was calm in the dressing room before the game. I thought we were outstanding, especially in the first half.

“The club’s put a statement out, and I respect that. As far as I’m concerned, I have to give the club the time to dissect DCMS, and the implications of the sanctions.

“There has to be a two-way process between the club and them [DCMS] to determine how to run, how to operate, how to exist, in this period. We need to let them do their job. I don’t have answers. We all have a million questions. I will probably learn more in the coming days and weeks.”

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