Sam Kerr's opening goal of the season proved vital as Chelsea, the reigning Women's Super

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Sam Kerr’s opening goal of the season proved vital as Chelsea, the reigning Women’s Super

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Credit By: ca.news.yahoo.com

After having an earlier goal disallowed due to an offside call, Australian forward Sam Kerr found the net in the 36th minute to break the deadlock.

Spotting an opportunity at the far post, she leaped to head in a precise cross from Niamh Charles, who received an accurate pass from England’s Fran Kirby. It was Kirby’s first start since February, recovering from a knee injury that kept her out of the Women’s World Cup.

Lauren James missed a golden opportunity to double the lead for the hosts, unable to get past Hammers goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who made a crucial save with her legs.

However, substitute Erin Cuthbert secured the three points for Chelsea with a composed finish in the first minute of added time.

The win further extends Chelsea’s impressive home streak in the Women’s Super League, notching their 17th consecutive victory in the competition. Their last points dropped at either Kingsmeadow or Stamford Bridge were in a goalless draw with Arsenal back in February 2022.

Despite their efforts, West Ham’s record against Chelsea remains winless in their 11 WSL encounters. The Hammers had their fair share of chances to level the score when they were trailing 1-0.

Emma Harries missed the target, Viviane Asseyi headed wide, Riko Ueki’s effort was deflected behind, and Kirsty Smith’s shot was tipped over by Blues keeper Zecira Musovic.

Catch up on the Chelsea versus West Ham match highlights, along with post-game reactions and analysis.

England forward Fran Kirby made an impressive return to the starting lineup, marking her first start in eight months after recovering from injury. Chelsea, on the hunt for a fifth consecutive Women’s Super League (WSL) title, started the day in fifth place, and their time at the top might be short-lived, as the four teams above them – Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United – are all in action on Sunday.

Nonetheless, manager Emma Hayes will be pleased as Chelsea maintained their unbeaten record in the opening three matches of their title defense.

The most significant positive for Hayes was the return of Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby to the starting lineup. Kerr has been the club’s top scorer for the past three seasons, while Kirby is Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer.

Hayes remarked, “It’s wonderful to have these two players back, with their well-known chemistry, but we must give them some time. They’ve only had two training sessions together. We always anticipate something magical from them. This is just the beginning, and we’re heading in the right direction.

Hayes emphasized the importance of handling both players carefully as they made their returns from injury concerns during her remarks on Friday.

In the absence of Mia Fishel and Guro Reiten, who were both sidelined due to injuries, Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby were entrusted with starting roles. Hayes’ trust in the pair was well placed, as both players delivered strong performances.

Kerr had been struggling with a calf injury that she picked up just before the World Cup, causing her to miss the first two matches. However, she made an impact as a substitute against Manchester City and continued to pose a constant threat to the West Ham defense, eventually scoring her 55th goal in 69 WSL appearances.

Kirby, on the other hand, had not started a match since her goal in the Continental Cup semi-final back in February. Her knee injury required surgery, sidelining her for significant matches including the FA Cup final and the World Cup. Her return was met with delight as she showcased her brilliant passing and skillful ability to navigate through the West Ham defense.

Hayes expressed her happiness for Kirby’s progress, highlighting the importance of gradually building her fitness and ensuring she remains available for the team’s crucial matches.

Despite a slow start to the season with a win at Brighton and two subsequent losses, West Ham manager Rehanne Skinner found several positives in the team’s performance.

Skinner stated, “I’m really proud of the performance. We created many good chances in the first half but were unlucky not to convert them. Our 14 chances indicate the progress we have made. The game could have shifted if we had taken a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes.

Reference:

https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/67037471

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/chelsea-women-v-west-ham-160619446.html

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