Chelsea 8-0 Bristol City: Blues snatch back pole position in Hayes’ fairytale Kingsmeadow farewell

Chelsea gave Emma Hayes the perfect sendoff at Kingsmeadow on Sunday, recording a historic 8-0 win against already-relegated Bristol City to put themselves back in the driving seat for the Barclays Women’s Super League title after Manchester City’s last-gasp loss to Arsenal this afternoon.

As it happened

Chelsea’s game plan was obvious, and with the need to increase their goal difference by a substantial amount to catch Manchester City, it would be all-out attack from the get-go.

It was the perfect start for the Blues when in the fourth minute, Niamh Charles was brought down in the box after being played through by Guro Reiten – and the Norwegian forward calmly slotted the penalty home. She immediately grabbed the ball and ran back to the centre circle, in a clear demonstration of the hosts’ mindset.

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It didn’t take long for them to double their lead, with Sjoeke Nüsken coming out on top of a chaotic goalmouth from a poorly defended corner, bundling the ball in before dashing back to the halfway line to get proceedings back underway.

But as the half matured, Bristol City managed to find their feet and carve out a few chances to scare a perhaps complacent Chelsea side. They played triangles around the Chelsea midfield to get Ffion Morgan through down the right-hand side, however, the ever-present Millie Bright made a no-nonsense clearance.

The visitors’ most promising break of the half came when Jamie-Lee Napier nicked the ball from Eve Perisset and was through on goal, but her ball to Emily Syme was poor and the effort ended well over the bar. 

Although Chelsea managed to get back control of possession, they went into the half-time break still only 2-0 up – despite Beever-Jones’ audacious overhead kick on the stroke of half-time.

Emma Hayes’ final half-time speech at Kingsmeadow was clearly a successful one, with Chelsea showing their elite credentials – and then some – in the second half. 

Their relentless rout started in the 52nd minute, when after a smart one-two with Erin Cuthbert, Aggie Beever-Jones finished hard and low into the bottom left corner; a goal that lifted the nerves from the home crowd and saw shouts of relief from the Chelsea players.

And if that goal lifted the tension from the crowd, Reiten’s rocket from 25 yards brought Kingsmeadow to life. This was the real turning point, as the baby-faced assassin took the game by the scruff of the neck and led the Chelsea charge.

Not long afterwards, she was celebrating completing her spectacular hat-trick after smashing the ball into the roof of the net following sublime holdup play from substitute Cat Macario.

Chants of “we want six” rang around Kingsmeadow as the jubilation of the title race being back in their hands was palpable, and Macario was involved again as those dreams came true – her looping free-kick into the back post was met by an unmarked Niamh Charles, who gave Fran Bentley no chance to stop it. 

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Inevitably, chants of “we want seven” followed this goal as they got closer and closer to matching Manchester City’s goal difference. The reigning champions were rolling by this point, with everything they touched turning to gold.

This was particularly true for Reiten, who unsurprisingly got her fourth goal of the night in the 77th minute, capping off a historic individual performance that will go down in Chelsea history if they end up lifting a fifth successive league title come May 18.

I don’t think I need to say what chant followed this goal. 

As if the night couldn’t get any better for Emma Hayes, her side kept on pushing and managed to find their eight goal in the dying stages, when Beever-Jones headed home at the far post to put the Blues ahead of Manchester City on goal difference.

The lineups

CHE: Mušović; Charles, Björn, Bright, Périsset; Cuthbert, Ingle, Nüsken; Reiten, Beever-Jones, Hamano

BCI: Bentley; Powell, Connolly, Struck, Bull; Napier, Jones, Rodgers, Syme, Morgan; Thestrup