What a week for Pernille Harder! Chelsea follows game-changing display in FA Cup final with goal in West Ham win as Blues go top of WSL
- Charles, Harder and Ingle on scoresheet for Blues
- FA Cup game-changer impresses again
- All eyes on Arsenal clash this weekend
TELL ME MORE: The Blues made a sloppy start by their own high standards but still managed to take the lead inside 13 minutes when Niamh Charles finished off a scrappy move at the back post. Chelsea struggled to break down Paul Konchesky's side during the remainder of the first half, and the Hammers retained a threat on the counter throughout.
Emma Hayes' team talk lit a fire in her side, though, and it was 2-0 just two minutes after the break. Sophie Ingle was the architect, showing composure in the box to find Pernille Harder, who finished clinically. Ingle turned from creator to scorer for Chelsea's third, nodding home at the back post after Magdalena Eriksson's header trickled along the crossbar. West Ham made a last stand late on, with Jess Carter springing into action to clear Amalie Thestrup's shot off the line with Zecira Musovic beaten. But the Blues would have the last laugh, with Erin Cuthbert shimmying on the edge of the box and firing a shot into the top corner in stoppage time.
THE MVP: Chelsea were far from perfect in the first half in a game they had to win. They needed a quick start to the second half and fortunately for them, Harder was on hand to provide exactly that. Three days removed from her match-winning substitute appearance in the FA Cup final, the Dane controlled Ingle's weighted pass perfectly before firing home. The goal completely took the sting out of West Ham, who had been dangerous at times in the first half, and Chelsea will be hoping she can continue her fine form in Saturday's title decider.
THE BIG LOSER: Kadeisha Buchanan can be forgiven for a bit of rustiness on her first start since returning from injury. Even still, this was a testing night for the Canadian. After three misplaced passes in a row, Emma Hayes moved her from the right into the centre of Chelsea's back three. Even hidden away slightly from the action, she continued to under hit her passes and was dispossessed several times by the tireless Viviane Asseyi. It would be a real surprise to see her starting against Arsenal.
MATCH IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? All roads lead to the WSL title showdown between Chelsea and Arsenal on Sunday afternoon. The Blues have to be considered favourite, especially with their opponents' injury crisis deepening earlier in the evening when Lia Walti was carried off partway through her side's win over Everton. Win that and the Blues will only require a last-day victory over struggling Reading to rubber-stamp them finishing in top spot.
MATCH RATING (OUT OF FIVE): ⭐⭐⭐