Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the WSL as they overcame a determined Everton side to win 3-0.
The Blues came into the game in second place on goal difference, courtesy of Manchester City’s win earlier in the day, knowing that a positive result would return them to the summit.
Everton however will leave Kingsmeadow feeling slightly aggrieved having neutralised Chelsea’s attacking output in the first half before falling behind to a controversial first half penalty.
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes reflected: “We’re rushing things, trying to break when it wasn’t on.
“We knew what we would face with them playing a five at the back and we we’re more intelligent with it in the second half.”
The first half was a scrappy affair, with Everton packing the midfield and disrupting the reigning champions rhythm.
In a game of few clear-cut chances, Chelsea were a little fortunate to take the lead as Mayra Ramirez, making her full debut, burst down the right and cut back to Guro Reiten.
Clare Wheeler was on hand to make what she and many watching thought was a crucial last ditch tackle.
Unfortunately for the Everton defender, she caught the onrushing Johanna Rytting-Kaneryd as she cleared the ball, which seemed to compel referee Emily Heaslip to point to the penalty spot.
Although fortunate, Reiten was in no mood to look a gift horse in the mouth as she finished emphatically into the bottom left hand corner.
Chelsea grew into the game in the second period, as their class began to show and they doubled their lead as the force of nature Ramirez burst down the right hand side again before being brought down in the box.
Reiten stepped up once more and dispatched the penalty into the same corner to extend their lead and knock the fight out of the visitors.
The controversy was not finished for the evening, as Everton manager Brian Sorenson saw a red card for what Hayes described as an inappropriate comment towards the officials following confusion over a substitution.
Chelsea rang the changes late on as Aggie Beever-Jones, fresh off of signing a new contract was introduced alongside striker Mia Fishel, with the two combining instantly only for Fishel to blaze Beever-Jones’ headed knockdown over from close range.
Fishel then turned provider as she received the ball with her back to goal and played an intelligent first time flick into the path of the oncoming Cuthbert who volleyed in at the near post.
The goal capped off another sensational performance for the night’s captain, who led by example throughout a difficult game against a determined opposition.
On the captaincy, Cuthbert said: “It really is an honour to lead out a team as big as Chelsea under the lights.
“I never could have imagined it as a young girl growing up in Ayrshire, it is a dream come true.”
Chelsea have little time to recover as they are back in action in the Continental Cup on Wednesday, in the second of four games in 12 days at Kingsmeadow.
How they lined up: