The FA Women's Super League
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Chelsea 5-0 Reading: Emma Hayes' side retain WSL title with win

By James LawBBC Sport

Chelsea retained their Women's Super League title as Fran Kirby scored twice in their ruthless victory over Reading.

Knowing a final-day win would crown them champions, Melanie Leupolz put the hosts ahead with a half-volley from a low corner after just 68 seconds.

Kirby guided a second into the top corner and again linked up with Sam Kerr to power home after the interval.

Golden boot winner Kerr volleyed past Grace Moloney from Kirby's lofted pass and Erin Cuthbert bundled in a fifth.

Second-placed Manchester City won at West Ham to finish two points behind as runners-up, but needed Chelsea to slip up to have any chance of snatching top spot.

England's record appearance holder Fara Williams captained Reading in her final game before retiring as the Royals finish the season seventh.

Emma Hayes' side have already won the League Cup this season and clinching a fourth WSL title moves the Blues a step closer to a historic quadruple.

They face Barcelona in the Women's Champions League final next Sunday, and have a last-16 Women's FA Cup tie against Everton to come on 20 May.

Leupolz's neat opener, which went through Royals keeper Moloney, was the fastest WSL goal of the season - though Chelsea were not at their swashbuckling best in the first half at Kingsmeadow and had to be patient until England forward Kirby's side-footed finish after a one-two with Kerr.

Williams was denied a farewell goal against her old club by the alert Ann-Katrin Berger and, once Kirby scored her second before the hour mark, Hayes took off Ji So-yun, Pernille Harder and Niamh Charles with an eye on next weekend's European final in Gothenburg.

Kerr's goal made her just the second woman to pass 20 goals in a WSL season - after Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema in 2018-19 - while substitute Cuthbert put the icing on the Chelsea cake late on.

Kerr-by combo conquers again

Chelsea lift the WSL title trophy
Chelsea have won two trophies this season and could yet win two more

The partnership struck up by Kirby and Australia striker Kerr has led to them becoming known as 'Kerr-by' by supporters.

And when either of them scored in the title-clinching triumph it was the other one who set them up.

The pair have scored a staggering 52 goals between them in all competitions and have a near telepathic understanding when the ball is in the final third, with their movement and weight of pass entirely in sync.

"It's a dream come true, they're amazing," Kerr told BBC Radio 5 Live when asked what it is like to play in this Chelsea side.

"This probably means the most to me out of all my golden boots - I feel like a lot of people said I had to come to Europe to prove myself and here it is."

But the list of standout Chelsea players this season is a long one.

Germany goalkeeper Berger won the WSL's golden glove with 12 clean sheets this season, edging out unfortunate Manchester City keeper Ellie Roebuck, who missed their final league match on Sunday with an ankle injury.

Having won last season's WSL on points per game after the season was curtailed by coronavirus, it will feel sweet for Hayes and co to have retained their crown on the pitch.

Reading midfielder Fara Williams (left) poses with Chelsea manager Emma Hayes before her final WSL game
Chelsea boss Hayes (right) presented Williams with a signed shirt and flowers before her final game before retirement

Monday off for players? 'They wish'

Chelsea boss Hayes said this is the best of her league title successes because of the fierce competition from Manchester City.

"They had a tremendous team and took us the whole way, so to win the title with the investment they've had too I think is a real testament to the players," she told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Winning the league is, I think, the real indicator that you're the dominant team.

"To do that in the fashion we've done it - we've controlled what we needed to and we've not been chasing all season."

Hayes said she feels "too weathered" for any talk of a potential Chelsea quadruple and asked whether she will be giving her players Monday off, she said: "They wish - they're in tomorrow and they can have Tuesday off."

Line-ups

Chelsea Women

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 30Berger
  • 21CharlesSubstituted forAnderssonat 58'minutes
  • 4Bright
  • 16Eriksson
  • 7CarterSubstituted forBlundellat 69'minutes
  • 8LeupolzSubstituted forFlemingat 69'minutes
  • 5Ingle
  • 14Kirby
  • 23HarderSubstituted forCuthbertat 58'minutes
  • 10JiSubstituted forReitenat 58'minutes
  • 20Kerr

Substitutes

  • 1Musovic
  • 3Blundell
  • 9England
  • 11Reiten
  • 17Fleming
  • 22Cuthbert
  • 24Spence
  • 25Andersson
  • 28Telford

Reading Women

Formation 4-5-1

  • 1Moloney
  • 2Leine
  • 14Cooper
  • 5Bartrip
  • 31RobertsSubstituted forEikelandat 78'minutes
  • 11Harding
  • 4Williams
  • 23Rowe
  • 6James
  • 18Carter
  • 36HarriesSubstituted forChaplenat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Jeon
  • 9Eikeland
  • 16Nayler
  • 19Chaplen
  • 24Flores
  • 32Childerhouse
Referee:
Stacey Pearson

Match Stats

Home TeamChelsea WomenAway TeamReading Women
Possession
Home60%
Away40%
Shots
Home17
Away7
Shots on Target
Home9
Away1
Corners
Home5
Away3
Fouls
Home7
Away4

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Chelsea Women 5, Reading Women 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Chelsea Women 5, Reading Women 0.

  3. Post update

    Hand ball by Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Women).

  4. Post update

    Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Molly Bartrip.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Guro Reiten.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Reading Women. Conceded by Magdalena Eriksson.

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Hannah Blundell (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Jonna Andersson with a cross.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Sam Kerr (Chelsea Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Fran Kirby.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Reading Women. Amalie Eikeland replaces Bethan Roberts.

  10. Post update

    Hand ball by Guro Reiten (Chelsea Women).

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Guro Reiten (Chelsea Women) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sam Kerr.

  12. Goal!

    Goal! Chelsea Women 5, Reading Women 0. Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea Women) left footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal following a corner.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Sam Kerr (Chelsea Women) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Guro Reiten with a cross.

  14. Post update

    Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Bethan Roberts.

  15. Post update

    Offside, Reading Women. Fara Williams tries a through ball, but Natasha Harding is caught offside.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea Women).

  17. Post update

    Rachel Rowe (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Fran Kirby (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Sam Kerr.

  19. Goal!

    Goal! Chelsea Women 4, Reading Women 0. Sam Kerr (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Fran Kirby with a through ball.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea Women. Jessie Fleming replaces Melanie Leupolz.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea Women22183169105957
2Man City Women22174165135255
3Arsenal Women22153463154848
4Man Utd Women22152544202447
5Everton Women229583930932
6Brighton Women2283112141-2027
7Reading Women225982541-1624
8Tottenham Women2255121841-2320
9West Ham Women2236132139-1815
10Aston Villa Women2236131547-3215
11B'ham City Women2236131544-2914
12Bristol City Women2226141872-5412
View full The FA Women's Super League table

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