Chelsea blow away Bristol City to top WSL at Christmas

Chelsea eased past Bristol City to go three points clear in the Women’s Super League with a 3-0 win.

The result comes on the back of a difficult week for the club in which they lost to title rivals Arsenal and were held at home in the Champions League.

The result was soured slightly by a late sending off for England full-back Niamh Charles in injury time for a second yellow card.

Discussing the late dismissal, Chelsea boss Emma Hayes lamented: “I don’t know what she was thinking but she gets a rest for the West Ham game.”

Chelsea started the game brightly with Lauren James back in the side and Hannah Hampton making her debut in goal.

They dominated the ball from the get-go, with the irrepressible Erin Cuthbert pulling the strings in midfield.

The Scottish midfielder was looking dangerous with several shots and key passes testing the Bristol City back five early on.

But Chelsea did not have to wait long for their opener as the tricky James picked the ball up on the right and drove inside.

She was afforded the freedom of Bristol as she drove at the retreating defence before picking her spot in the top right corner.

Chelsea were soon 2-0 up as the impressive Cuthbert was finally rewarded with a goal, smartly volleying in from inside the box.

For all their domination however, Chelsea did occasionally look vulnerable to Bristol City’s counter attacks whether through design or through individual errors.

City went close to pulling one back just before halftime as they turned the ball over high up the pitch only for Hampton to make an impressive block to deny City winger Ffion Morgan.

Chelsea’s dominance meant that the second half lacked much of the energy of the first and was devoid of many clear chances.

James as ever was Chelsea’s main attacking outlet and she hit the bar midway through after once again being invited to shoot.

Any Bristol City hope of an unlikely comeback was extinguished when clever play sent Guro Reiten away down the left, who lofted in a well-judged cross to allow Sam Kerr to nod into the bottom corner.

As Ashton Gate played host to a Mexican wave, a sure-fire sign that a game is over as a contest, Chelsea took the opportunity to rotate and gave a debut to Japanese teenager Maika Hamano.

Reflecting on the performance Erin Cuthbert said: “We moved the ball a lot quicker than we did in our previous game and showed more composure when it mattered.

“We managed to be clinical early on, something we failed to do on Wednesday”.

With Arsenal losing on Saturday to local rivals Tottenham Hotspur, the result moves Chelsea three points clear going into the winter break.

On Chelsea’s recent form Cuthbert said: “We’re going to have tough moments in a season and losing is nothing to really panic about.

“If you had told me that we would be three points ahead at Christmas I would have bitten your hand off.”

How they lined up:

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