The somewhat unlikely bright winter afternoon in Walsall was a nuisance to everyone on the pitch, but mostly for the hosts Aston Villa who had to defend while looking almost straight into the sun. Luckily for them Chelsea were not too sharp in attack in the first 15 minutes of the match, allowing the Villans to make a proper challenge in midfield.
Shortly after, Chelsea would find the opener in their first proper chance. After being denied the opener nine minutes into the match, Guro Reiten got the breakthrough with a lovely first touch on a Jess Carter cross to beat her market in the penalty box, and the finishing turn to put Chelsea in the lead against the Villans.
Guro would also be involved in our second goal. She was brought down in the penalty box by an Aston Villa defender, with the referee rightfully pointing to the spot. Pernille Harder took the penalty, with shot-stopper Hannah Hampton jumping to her left while the Danish star sent it the opposite direction with a decisive shot.
The Blues almost found a third goal with Kirby, trying her luck from range after a defensive mistake from the hosts. But the attempt was defended by Hampton, as Chelsea settled for a two-goal lead at half-time.
Second half would start well for Chelsea, as Alsu Abdullina almost got her first goal only three minutes into it. Aston Villa were trying very hard for opportunities upfront, but they were lacking in quality and even strength at times as they tried to battle against the likes of Millie Bright and Jess Carter for the ball.
But it was time to put an end to the hosts’ hopes. None better than Guro, for a second time today, to do it for them with another swift finish in the box from a Fran Kirby pass.
We were almost able to get a clean sheet from this encounter. However, a late penalty to Aston Villa was converted by Ramona Petzelberger, with Zecira Musovic nearly defending it.
Still, the win was ours!
- Alsu Abdullina gets her first start as a Chelsea player! Zecira Musovic takes over goalkeeping duty from Ann-Katrin Berger today, while Jess Carter and Drew Spence return to the starting lineup.
- Subs are Niamh Charles for Pernille Harder, Sophie Ingle for Jonna Andersson, Lauren James for Fran Kirby, Aimee Claypole for Jessie Fleming, and Emma Thompson for Also Abdullina.
- Some good and very promising work from Alsu on both ends of the pitch, including the cross that led to Guro Reiten’s penalty foul in the first half. Great sight!
- Guro’s brace is notable, but her overall work today is also commendable.
- At this point in time it would not be a surprise seeing Niamh Charles wearing long sleeves between the goalposts.
- Next up: Manchester United at the Conti Cup semifinals.