Chelsea thrash Reading to retain Women’s Super League title

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Chelsea retained the Women’s Super League title with an emphatic 5-0 win over Reading.

Emma Hayes’ side headed into Sunday’s concluding round of fixtures two points clear of second-placed Manchester City and with a goal difference superior by three.

And they made no mistake in getting the win they needed as Melanie Leupolz, Fran Kirby’s double, Sam Kerr and Erin Cuthbert ensured the trophy remained with the Blues.

Chelsea were named 2019-20 champions on a points-per-game basis. When the season was halted by the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, they were a point behind leaders City with a game in hand.

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This time around they settled matters on the pitch, securing the win that ensured City’s 1-0 victory at West Ham counted for nothing.

Any nerves were banished as Chelsea got off to a fast start, taking the lead after just two minutes. Leupolz peeled off her marker from Jess Carter’s corner and fired her shot from the centre of the area through Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney.

Hayes’ side were not at their brilliant best in the first half but were largely unthreatened by Reading.

Kerr (left) and Kirby (right) combined three times
Kerr (left) and Kirby (right) combined three times (John Walton/PA)

As the visitors started to tire, it was a familiar combination who put the home side in full control after 43 minutes. A flowing team move set Kerr free and the Australian cut back for England’s Kirby to fire into the top right-hand corner.

The pair combined again 12 minutes after the break as Chelsea put the game beyond all doubt. Kerr held up a long ball over the top well and laid it off for Kirby to unleash a fine left-footed finish from the edge of the box for her 16th WSL goal of the season.

Kirby returned the favour after 71 minutes with a delicious lofted through ball for WSL top scorer Kerr to net her 21st league goal of the season and become only the second player to net over 20 in a campaign in the league’s history.

Kerr’s fine volley was the duo’s 12th combined goal of the season and their third of the afternoon.

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Substitute Erin Cuthbert put the gloss on an emphatic win with Chelsea’s fifth after 75 minutes when Maloney could not hold a Kerr header and Cuthbert managed to scramble it in.

A procession to the title was capped off with Kerr winning the Golden Boot and Ann-Katrin Berger’s 12 clean sheets clinching the Golden Glove.

The title is the second trophy in a potential quadruple for Chelsea, who won the League Cup in February and face Barcelona in next weekend’s Champions League final.

Reading’s Fara Williams, England’s most-capped player, made her final appearance before retirement, with both sides paying tribute to the 37-year-old before kick-off.