Chelsea Women eased into the Continental Cup semi-final with an emphatic 5-0 win over promotion chasing Sunderland at Kingsmeadow.
Emma Hayes made 11 changes to the side that beat Everton on Sunday and was impressed with the fluidity of her squad players amidst a run of 4 games in twelve days.
Hayes said: “It was a good first half performance but I thought we laboured in the second.
“That said, I thought we recovered it really well and stopped the game petering out, leading to the two late goals.”
The visiting side, currently second in the women’s second tier, will be hoping to make games against Chelsea a regular fixture from next season.
But the Black Cats will leave south west London under no illusions as to the gulf in class between the top sides in their respective leagues.
Chelsea dominated the game from the outset, particularly on each flank with academy graduate Aggie Beever-Jones and debutant Maika Hamano causing the north east side problems down their respective wings.
Mia Fishel, starting in the place of rested British-record signing Mayra Ramirez, missed two early chances from close range that she will be disappointed with in hindsight.
There was a long pause in play after 10 minutes as the lineswoman required urgent medical attention after falling awkwardly on her elbow.
Her inability to continue led to a loudspeaker announcement asking for any qualified referees to make themselves known to the nearest steward.
The long pause in play did not disrupt Chelsea’s rhythm and they soon took the lead as England international Fran Kirby was played in behind out wide before crossing for the unmarked Sjoeke Nusken to head home from four yards out.
Chelsea doubled their lead just before half-time as the impressive Nusken was on hand to head home Beever-Jones’ corner at the near post.
Sunderland manager Mel Reay would have perhaps told her side at half-time to keep the early part of the second period tight, in the hope of plotting a way back into the game.
If that was the plan, it was blown a way one minute after the restart as Beever-Jones collected the ball inside her own half, advanced into the box unchallenged and rifled a shot in at the near part to give the blues an unassailable lead.
Chelsea were able to hit cruise control, dominating the ball and conserving energy ahead of an intense schedule.
The goals were not finished as Fran Kirby turned in a cross at the near post to give Chelsea a fourth before adding a fifth in stoppage time.
The Chelsea substitute bench was notable in its lack of activity, a potential sign of Hayes’ intention to rest the entire starting line up from the Everton fixture.
On her lack of changes Hayes said: “It is unusual for me to not make any changes.
“But I felt that it was important for everybody to get ninety minutes.”
Hayes confirmed that Chelsea will be training tomorrow, with the players rested able to train thanks to their lack of involvement, ahead of their FA Cup clash with local rivals Crystal Palace on Sunday.
How they lined up