Chelsea 4-2 Brighton: Sjoeke Nüsken opens Chelsea account with Kingsmeadow double

With an unblemished record across the 2023/24 Barclays Women’s Super League campaign after winning their opening three matches – most recently defeating West Ham United last weekend, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes made several changes to the side that beat the Hammers, with Sjoeke Nüsken recalled to the starting eleven.

Meanwhile, Brighton & Hove Albion were on the losing side in their encounter against Tottenham Hotspur in front of their home supporters last time out. Melissa Phillips was forced into making a notably enforced change for Sunday’s clash, with Sophie Baggaley replacing Nicky Evrard in goal – with the latter unable to participate in proceedings at Kingsmeadow against her parent club.

CHE: Berger; Bright, Buchanan, Carter; Périsset, Ingle, Charles, Nüsken; James, Kirby, Kerr

BRI: Baggaley; Thorisdóttir, Bergsvand, Carabali, Kullberg, Mengwen; Robinson, Losada, Pinto, Bremer; Geum-min

On the losing side in their last two Barclays Women’s Super League encounters, Brighton survived an early scare as Sam Kerr’s fearsome strike struck the crossbar in the sixth minute of the contest.

However, the visitors did not allow that early scare to affect their opening tactical gambit at Kingsmeadow, stunning Chelsea only four minutes later, as Pauline Bremer instinctively arrived into the penalty area to clinically slot Katie Robinson’s dangerous delivery into the six-yard box past the recalled Ann-Katrin Berger. 

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Protecting a staggering 17-match unbeaten record at home in the WSL, Chelsea responded assertively to Bremer’s opener, as Sophie Baggaley produced a spectacular sequence of saves to deny Sjoeke Nüsken, Lauren James and Fran Kirby in the space of a hectic four-minute spell for the deputising Brighton goalkeeper.

However, Chelsea’s unrelenting attacking pressure finally told in the concluding proceedings of the first half, as Nüsken glanced James’ pin-point cross onto her head into the far corner – with Baggaley rooted to the spot – allowing the German international to wheel away in celebration after netting her maiden goal for the Blues.

Unbeaten in their last four head-to-head encounters, somewhat unsurprisingly to the bumper crowd at Kingsmeadow, Chelsea turned the match on its head in only the seventh minute of the second half. Nüsken was inexplicably left with the freedom of the penalty area to herself by a napping Brighton defence, leaving the midfield maestro with the simple task of comfortably firing the ball into the back of the net beyond a frustrated-looking Baggaley.

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Already enjoying an unforgettable afternoon, Nüsken transformed her performance into an even more impressive one, as the midfielder was the chief architected the hosts’ third goal, which saw Guro Bergsvand end up with the unwanted accolade of an own goal on her footballing CV.

Inevitably, a fourth goal was soon to arrive for Chelsea, as moments after Jessie Fleming had somehow fired high into the stands behind the goal with an unexposed net at her mercy, an unselfish Nüsken decided against potentially netting her hat-trick, instead squaring the ball to substitute Aggie Beever-Jones to tap home past Baggaley.

Unwilling to let her heads drop after a devastating second-half spell from Chelsea, and in particular hat-trick hero Nüsken, Brighton netted a late consolation in stoppage time as Elisabeth Terland smartly slotted home her fifth goal in as many games across all competitions.

Yet another impressive performance from four-time Barclays Women’s Super League winners Chelsea sends them into second position in the WSL standings – only to be denied top spot by Manchester City’s superior goal difference. Meanwhile, Brighton remain in ninth after losing three of their opening four matches of the 2023/24 campaign.