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Chelsea 3, West Ham 2
Goals: Sam Kerr – 15’, Rachel Daly – 47’, Sam Kerr – 55’, Sam Kerr – 68’, Magdalena Eriksson (OG) – 88’
After a long, two-week international break, the FAWSL returned with a thriller between Chelsea and West Ham at Kingsmeadow. It wasn’t an easy London Derby for Chelsea, the defending league champs, but they were able to finish the job and take away the three points.
The match was also memorable for being the first since March in which a limited number of fans (up to 700) were allowed in the stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Early on, both sides had a chance, but Bethany England’s attempted header went wide, and Martha Thomas’ shot was blocked.
The first real chance of the game came in the 9th minute, when Cecilie Redisch Kvamme was able to get into the middle of Chelsea’s box and find enough space to shoot; the shot was on target, but Ann-Katrin Berger managed a save.
West Ham would come to regret that chance, and the couple they had after, as five minutes later, Chelsea scored their first.
The goal started with Ji So-yun pressing West Ham in their own half. Ji, who was celebrating her 100th appearance in the FAWSL (and is the first international player to achieve that feat), managed to rid West Ham’s Cho So-hyun of her possession, allowing Pernille Harder to pick up the loose ball.
Harder then passed it to Fran Kirby, who was playing in her first game back from injury. Kirby then crossed it into the box and found Sam Kerr, who knocked it in from close range.
West Ham reacted almost immediately, with Rachel Daly able to win the ball off of Magdalena Eriksson around the half-way line. Daly then sprinted the whole half the pitch, but was unable to get the ball around Berger in a crucial one-on-one.
The rest of the half was end to end, but Chelsea was unable to up the score, and West Ham was unable to equalize. Going into half-time, Chelsea remained up by a goal.
The speech delivered by interim West Ham managers Billy Stewart and Paul McHugh must have worked, because West Ham equalized minutes after the whistle. Adriana Leon received the ball near the halfway line and was able to sprint to the final third without being challenged. A short pass from Leon across the box to Daly followed, and this time, Daly didn’t waste her chance, scoring the equalizer.
West Ham would have to cut its celebrations short, however, as a relentless Chelsea attack followed. The Blues won multiple freekicks and had several opportune chances before a breakthrough came in the 55th minute. West Ham keeper Mackenzie Arnold got a hand on a cross from Harder into the box, but she spilled the ball at Kerr’s feet, leaving the Australian with an easy shot on an open net.
Thirteen minutes later, Kerr completed her hattrick, with Kirby again assisting on the goal. The sequence once more started with Chelsea pressing West Ham, leading to some quick interplay between Kirby and Kerr, which ended with Kerr easily tapping in the score.
At 3-1, it was all Chelsea. West Ham did not give up per se, but Chelsea, with the fans backing them, and with the two-goal cushion, felt comfortable and confident. They even had multiple chances in which they could have extended their lead.
Things got interesting near the end, however, when Eriksson scored an own goal in the 88th minute. With the score now at 3-2, West Ham tried to push for a final equalizer in the last minutes of the second half and the seven minutes of extra-time, but they were unsuccessful.
With her three goals, Kerr moved up to third in the FAWSL top scorers of the season, behind Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema and Jill Roord.
Chelsea sits in 3rd place, with 17 points, three behind league leader Manchester United and two behind Arsenal, though they have a game in hand.
The Blues will be taking a break from the FAWSL for their next match, as they will be facing Benfica in the Champions League.
The match details for our #UWCL round of 32 tie against Benfica have been confirmed! ????— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) November 29, 2020
West Ham currently sits in 10th, but an away match against Chelsea was always going to be a tough match for them to win. The goal for West Ham this season is to avoid relegation, and their next match against Bristol City, who are bottom of the table, will be the perfect opportunity to give them some cushion so as to avoid playing in the FA Women’s Championship next season.
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