Chelsea marked Emma Hayes' return to the dugout in emphatic style on Saturday as they eased to a comfortable 3-0 WSL win over Tottenham in front of over 38,000 fans at Stamford Bridge.
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Hayes had been absent from the touchline for six weeks after undergoing an emergency hysterectomy. Her side celebrated her comeback by climbing to the top of the WSL table thanks to a blistering first half performance, with goals from Sam Kerr, Erin Cuthbert and Guro Reiten seeing the Blues victory
Tottenham have a history of frustrating the big four in the WSL, but have tended to struggle when playing in landmark fixtures at main stadiums in recent months. They fell behind after just 12 minutes, Kerr shrugging off Shelina Zadorsky's slide tackle and firing low past a sea of Tottenham bodies and into the bottom corner.
Ashleigh Neville called Ann-Katrin Berger into action for the first time after dispossessing Eve Perisset, but her curling effort from range was comfortably held – and that was about as good as it got for Spurs in the first half.
Cuthbert added a spectacular second for Chelsea after 26 minutes. Lauren James' corner drifted all the way through to the Scotland international on the edge of the Spurs box, and she controlled the ball with her chest before rifling a swerving half volley into the top corner.
James was again involved as the Blues made it three before the first half was out. The forward turned Asmita Ale and Neville inside out, before appearing to be clipped by the latter as she entered the penalty area. Reiten emphatically dispatched the subsequent spot kick.
Chelsea continued to dominate in the second half but the intensity dropped a little with the result seemingly a formality. Jess Naz created an opening for Spurs after skipping past Bright and fizzing in a cross from the right, while James fired narrowly wide for the Blues from range. The WSL title race is well and truly on.
GC: Ann-Katrin Berger – 6/10 – Did well to claim a potentially testing cross in the first half, but otherwise largely untested.
RB: Eve Perished – 7/10 – Linked up well with James, with the Chelsea right a constant source of creativity.
CB: Millie Bright – 7/10 – Played the long, direct ball to Kerr for Chelsea's opener. Almost replicated her Arnold Clark Cup goal scoring heroics in the second half, cracking the bar with a half volley.
CB: Kadeisha Buchanan – 8/10 – Swept up really well and brought the ball out from the back confidently on multiple occasions
LB: Magdalena Eriksson (51′ for Carter) – 6/10 – Rarely troubled the defensively. Brought a save out of Korpela after an adventurous foray forward early in the second half, before being replaced.
CM: Sophie Ingle – 7/10 – Tidy and composed in possession, hardly ever gave the ball away – even when being urged to shoot by the Stamford Bridge crowd.
CM: Erin Cuthbert – 9/10 – Doubled Chelsea's advantage with a stunning solo effort, controlling James' corner with her chest and finding the top corner with a half volley from the edge of the box. Absolutley everywhere as per usual, breaking up play expertly.
CM: Jessie Fleming – 6/10 – Helped Chelsea dominate the midfield with her energy and composure on the ball.
RW: Lauren James – 7/10 – Provided the set piece delivery for Chelsea's second, before dancing between Ale and Neville to win the penalty for her side's thrid.
ST: Sam Kerr (65′ for England) – 8/10 – Opened the scoring after 12 minutes with her first sighting of goal, riding Zadorsky's challenge and finishing coolly. Drew another save from Korpela in the first half with a low effort, and always looked a threat.
LW: Guro Riding – 7/10 – Emphatically dispatched Chelsea's third from the penalty spot. Always caused chaos with her wicked deliveries from the left.
SUB: Jess Carter (51′ for Eriksson) – 6/10
SUB: Bethany England (65′ for Kerr) – 6/10
SUB: Fran Kirby (65′ for Cuthbert) – 6/10
SUB: Katerina Svitkova (77′ for Reiten) – 6/10
SUB: Aniek Nouwen (77′ for Buchanan) – 6/10
GK: Tinja Riikka-Korpela – 5/10 – Got a hand to Cuthbert's volley but couldn't keep it out. Distribution was a little suspect at times.
RB: Amy Turner – 5/10 – One of three players gulilty of challenging for the initial corner and then leaving Cuthbert with acres of space for Chelsea's second
CB: Shelina Zadorsky – 5/10 – Couldn't prevent Kerr bursting through on goal as she unsuccessfully attempted to dispossess the forward for Chelsea's opener. Given a tough time by the Chelsea forward in the first half.
CB: Molly Bartrip – 5/10 – So much space between Bartrip and Zadorsky for Kerr to surge into for Chelsea's first, who both struggled in the first half.
LB: Asmita Ale – 5/10 – Beaten all ends up by James in the build up to the penalty for Chelsea's third.
CM: Angharad James – 6/10 – Sliced an effort wide in the second half. Decent in possession without ever being able to grab the game by the scruff of the neck against Chelsea's strong midfield trio.
CM: Eveliina Summanen – 6/10 – One of three players to contest the first phase of the corner and leave Cuthbert unmarked for Chelsea's second. Tidy in possession as Spurs put together a couple of well worked moves in the first half.
RW: Celin Bizet (69′ for Ayane) – 5/10 – Unable to get the better or Eriksson or Carter, and failed to have a telling impact on proceedings.
AM: Drew Spence – 6/10 – Her first return to Chelsea since leaving the club in the summer. One of three players who attempted to win the initial header from the corner before Chelsea's second. Sliced a sighting of goal wide in the first half when she had a little more time than she realised.
LW: Ashleigh Nevile (83′ for Ubogagu) – 5/10 – Had Tottenham's first effort of the game, dispossessing Perisset but firing straight at Berger from range. Conceded the penalty for Chelsea's third with a clumsy trip after being beatem by James.
ST: Jessica Naz – 5/10 – Had one of Tottenham's brightest moments, weaving past Bright before seeing her low delivery cut out by Carter. Otherwise largely starved of service.
SUB: Rosella Ayane (69′ for Bizet) – 5/10
SUB: Chioma Ubogagu (83′ for Neville) – 5/10
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