Leicester City 0-4 Chelsea: Cat Mácario wraps up goalscoring rout in first match since 2022

Seeking to return to provisional pole position in the race for the Barclays Women’s Super League title, Emma Hayes’ Chelsea faced Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Sunday evening. Hayes described the Foxes as ‘a team on the rise’ in her pre-match press conference.

LEI: Kop; Cayman, Thibaud, Green, Bott; Takarada; Nevin, Momiki, Tierney, Rantala; Whelan

CHE: Hampton; Charles, Björn, Carter, Périsset; Nüsken, Cuthbert; Reiten, Čanković, Kaneryd; Ramírez

With an injury crisis rapidly reducing Emma Hayes’ pool of available forwards, the goalscoring burden has been shared amongst her Chelsea squad as they head into the closing stages of arguably the tightest title fight in recent years.

Guro Reiten looked to have risen to the challenge after less than a minute on the banks of the River Soar, but the Norwegian couldn’t get the ball out from under her feet as she squandered a close-range opportunity.

While Willie Kirk’s Foxes dominated large spells of the opening half-hour, that was abruptly ended by Nathalie Björn’s opening goal in the 38th minute – coming after the hosts failed to clear a corner, allowing the Swedish defender to hook an effort over Lize Kop.

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Mayra Ramírez, who joined Chelsea for a then-record transfer fee in January, doubled the visitors’ lead before the interval as she pounced on a defensive error from Julie Thibaud before rounding Kop – and the Foxes weren’t able to respond.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying though, for as they have shown on numerous occasions throughout the season, Leicester City have established themselves as a fiercely resilient outfit. But against a side of Chelsea’s calibre, they were always likely to fall short – and a deflected strike from Johanna Rytting Kaneryd in the 64th minute was a hammer blow for the hosts.

But the headlines would reserved for substitute Catarina Macário, who replaced Ramírez in the 72nd minute to make her Chelsea debut and her first appearance for any side since suffering an ACL injury in 2022.

It would take the USA international just six minutes to net her first goal for the Blues, demonstrating a remarkable composure inside the penalty area to slot past Kop after receiving the ball from the ever-impressive Aggie Beever-Jones.

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Chelsea move to the top of the table on goal difference alone, as Emma Hayes’ side prepare for a tricky spell of fixtures that will see them take on Manchester City and Everton in domestic cup competitions, Arsenal in the WSL and Ajax in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Leicester City are also in cup action next time out, facing Liverpool in the quarterfinals of the Adobe Women’s FA Cup on Saturday at midday. The Foxes sit 7th in the Barclays Women’s Super League following this defeat.