Very close to yet another cup final, manager Emma Hayes did not want to take any risks in their semi-final encounter against West Ham tonight at Dagenham. A strong team was lined up for this task, with Ann-Katrin Berger returning to goalkeeping just a few days after Zecira Musovic put pen to paper to a new contract.
Her decision would pay off quickly. From a Guro Reiten free kick into the box only a few minutes after kick-off, Sam Kerr buried the ball with her feet to quickly get Chelsea ahead.
When it rains, it pours. Same can be said about Chelsea goals after taking such an early lead, especially with Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr and Lauren James all on the pitch and showing great sync between them. The trio started and ended an amazing attacking move in the best way possible, with the latter assisting the former for a great goal.
El golazooo de Fran!pic.twitter.com/WjB9DIDSrK— Chelsea Women's LATAM (@ChelseaWEsp) February 9, 2023
Chelsea continued to smash West Ham and soon they would be breached again by Kerr. This time it was Erin Cuthbert assisting the Australian striker, who cut inside and blasted it past the opposing keeper.
Doblete de Sam Kerrpic.twitter.com/yVwousoJLL— Chelsea Women's LATAM (@ChelseaWEsp) February 9, 2023
One event that might overshadow this amazing match from the Blues, was Fran Kirby falling to the ground due to a knee problem. She was replaced by Jelena Cankovic and one minute later, Kerr completed a first half hat-trick.
The Blues could have slowed down given Kirby’s injury exit and the overwhelming lead achieved in the first half. But the women in blue today did not know what that meant as they continued to go on the offence against a West Ham team well below their level of play. And James, who had yet to score today, did so with an amazing effort.
Despite the first half hat-trick, Sam Kerr had not left the field yet. She wanted more goals, and she got it thanks to Ève Périsset’s cross 60 minutes into the match.
And there was still time — and will! — for more. Cankovic, who has made a great impression in every appearance she gets for the Blues since her arrival, found a way to meet Reiten’s feet in the midst of several West Ham defenders. The Norwegian winger turned around like a natural striker and slotted it in for a seventh score.
Seven goals in and Chelsea were tireless. We were still pushing for an eighth goal and got very close on a few occasions with Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Niamh Charles, the latter who hit the post a few minutes before the final whistle.
- Berger is back! And so is Magda Eriksson, playing alongside Millie Bright in central defence in place of Kadeisha Buchanan.
- Subs are Jelena Cankovic for Fran Kirby, Maren Mjelde for Ève Périsset, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd for Lauren James, and Alsu Abdullina for Guro Reiten.
- Amazing efforts from Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby to get Chelsea a large in the first half, with the latter scoring from an amazing play involving herself, Kerr and Lauren James.
- Nice to see GOATs playing so well alongside each other.
- But it is very worrying seeing Fran Kirby subbed off so early into the match, likely due to a knee problem. Hope all is well with her!
- And get well soon, Svitkova!
- Sam Kerr with the first half hat-trick. Just another Thursday for her.
- Even with a four-goal lead in the first half, Chelsea choose not to take their foot off the gas. That is the way we should play week in and out given how much talent we have in this squad, that can easily be rotated across to better avoid injuries.
- Next up: Arsenal at home in the FA Cup, which will also be a League Cup final preview.