Tonight: The NWSL Challenge Cup kicks off
The NWSL season begins with a rematch of last year's Challenge Cup title game.
Chelsea 4, Everton 0 (Highlights)
Goals: Ji So-yun – 16’, Bethany England – 73’, 77’, Pernille Harder – 90’+7
Everton came to Kingsmeadow hoping to continue their unbeaten streak in the WSL, but Chelsea’s depth and clinical execution sent Everton back to Merseyside having lost 4-0.
Here’s how the action unfolded:
Chelsea had an abundance of chances during their first few possessions, constantly pinning Everton back in their own half. Chelsea’s fullbacks Maren Mjelde and Jonna Andersso were situated high and wide in Everton’s half, crossing the ball to a front three of Pernille Harder, Bethany England, and Erin Cuthbert, all of whom had early chances. However, Everton’s fullbacks were able to handle the pressure with Megan Finnigan and Rikke Sevecke successfully blocking shots and clearing loose balls.
While Chelsea was firmly in control, controlling 63.7% of the possession in the first half, Everton also had their chances during the first fifteen minutes of the match. Their best opportunity came off a miscue from Chelsea keeper Ann-Katrin Berger, who ran out from her position and cleared the ball straight into the path of Everton’s Damaris Egurrola. Egurrola then attempted to score from 40 yards out into an empty net, but the shot was just wide.
Everton would come to regret that missed chance just minutes later, when Ji So-yun scored to get Chelsea on the board. The goal was a result of Chelsea’s high press system, with England forcing a mistake and the ball landing to Ji, who was quickly able to control the loose ball and finish, beating keeper Sandy MacIver.
After the first goal, Everton struggled to get back into the match. They had two chances leading to a shot compared to Chelsea’s one before Ji scored. After, Everton had only one compared to Chelsea’s eight up until half-time.
The beginning of the second half was quite even, with Chelsea trying for another, while Everton looked for an equalizer. Things got quite aggressive with both teams getting booked for bad fouls.
It was around the 60 minute mark where it became noticeable that Everton was slightly off rhythm. Chelsea had successfully been opening them up all match, and it was only their lack of finishing and MacIver’s saves which kept Everton in the game.
Everton had struggled with England all match though, and eventually she was able to break through with two goals in quick succession.
The first came when Melanie Leupolz was able to dribble through two of Everton’s defenders. While she was fouled, the ball landed right at England’s feet, who was able to fire from close range.
The second came from a rebound which created chaos in front of the goal. England was the first to react, and she headed the ball into the back of the net.
Two goals in a matter of minutes for @Bethany_Eng15! ????— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) November 8, 2020
Firstly, the No.9 finishes from close-range and then she heads in her second and our third of the day! ????
???? 3-0 ???? #CFCW https://t.co/cwcmBP80Up
England, who had not been getting many minutes for Chelsea as of late, proved what a valuable asset she can be for the team. She will be a decisive player in the coming weeks for Emma Hayes should she continue her form.
Down 3-0, Everton looked quite defeated knowing they had lost not just their place as second in the table, but also their chance to take first ahead of Arsenal, who lost to Manchester United on Sunday. Egurrola hit the bar in what was Everton’s only real chance of a consolation goal before Harder finished them off with a fantastic shot outside of the box into the top corner.
The story of the second half really came down to who could keep up the energy and tempo, given both teams came out aggressive. Chelsea came out on top in this battle because Hayes’ three substitutes were able to sustain the intensity of Chelsea’s high press system. On the other hand, Willie Kirk’s substitutions were unable to make a real difference to the side.
Unfortunately for Everton, this has not been the first time they’ve been unable to see out matches, with similar depth problems hurting them in their match against Manchester City in the FA Cup Final. If they want to remain competitive in this league, Kirk needs to find a way to get the most out of his players for the full 90 minutes.
Up next: Chelsea heads to North London to face Arsenal, while Everton hosts Reading.
Manchester United vs Manchester City @ 7:30 a.m. EST
Aston Villa vs Birmingham City @ 9:30 a.m. EST
Everton vs Reading FC @ 11:30 a.m. EST
Bristol City vs Tottenham @ 1:30 p.m. EST
West Ham vs Brighton & Hove Albion @ 7:30 a.m. EST
Arsenal vs Chelsea @ 9:30 a.m. EST
Use code JWS for 25% off of any purchase.