Aluko inspires Chelsea to victory over Oshoala’s Liverpool

                           Chelsea Ladies
Chelsea Ladies took a step closer to the Women’s Super League title with a resounding victory away at Liverpool on Sunday.
The Blues were temporarily removed from the top of the league following Manchester City Women’s win earlier in the afternoon, however they ensured they were back in first place by the end of the day ahead of the final matchday of the season next weekend.

A victory over Sunderland on Sunday 4 October, will ensure they are league champions for the first time in the club’s history.

Ji’s brilliant goal after half an hour settled the nerves following a threatening spell from Liverpool, before Fran Kirby added a second five minutes before the interval. Aluko got herself on the scoresheet 10 minutes after the restart before Ji turned in from close range to send the girls back to the top of the league and on course for an unprecedented double.

Asisat Oshoala replaced Line Smorsgard in the 76th minutes but she could do little to help the defending champions.

Chelsea boss, Emma Hayes named an unchanged line-up from the side that started our last league outing, a 2-1 victory over Notts County three weeks previously.

That meant Hedvig Lindahl kept her place in goal protected by a back four of Hannah Blundell, Gilly Flaherty, Niamh Fahey and Claire Rafferty.

Gemma Davison, Aluko and Kirby provided the attacking support for striker Ji, while Drew Spence partnered captain Katie Chapman in central midfield.

It took the visitors a little while to settle into the contest as Liverpool’s direct play caused a few early problems. Lindahl was quick off her line to smother the ball at the feet of Line Smorsgard before Spence fired wide following a right-sided corner delivered by Ji.

Home goalkeeper Libby Stout made her first stop after a quarter of an hour, diving to her left to palm away Aluko’s effort, before Fahey was forced off the field for a lengthy period of treatment after being caught in the face by a flailing arm.

While playing with the numerical disadvantage, Hayes’s side almost fell behind on the scoresheet too as the Reds strived to capitalise on the opportunity.

Ingrid Ryland’s bending effort beat Lindahl but bounced back off the far post, before captain Gemma Bonner rose highest at the back post and saw her header strike the crossbar and fly away from danger.

Moments later, the deadlock was broken and it was the girls in blue celebrating. A quick break down the right saw the visitors make strong advances, though Davison’s delivery looked to have too much power.

Nonetheless, Ji brought the ball under control with a super touch as it floated over her head away from goal, spun instantly and lashed a strike into the roof of the net for her eighth goal of the season.

The defending league champions responded and Lindahl made an important save to push the ball over for a corner as Katie Zelem’s rising drive from distance looked on course to fly into the top corner.

Down the other end, Davison curled narrowly over before Aluko and Kirby combined to double our lead.

It was the pace of Aluko that fashioned the opportunity and she supplied perfectly for Kirby, who took her time before squeezing her finish beyond the goalkeeper and the desperate attempts of a defender on the line.

It was the striker’s fifth Chelsea Ladies goal since her arrival from Reading in July.

It was a bright restart from the visitors with Aluko striking just off-target and Spence forcing a save from Stout, before a defensive mistake at the back for Liverpool proved costly.

Aluko retrieved possession following a poor goal-kick and punished the Reds ruthlessly as she slotted the ball beyond Stout and into the far corner of the net.

Chances continued to be created at both ends as Smorsgard spooned over Lindahl’s bar, Ji shot over and then released Kirby in behind, before the forward’s final effort was fired straight at the goalkeeper.

Ji shot into the side netting after advancing down the right before the South Korean added her second goal of the evening and the Blues’ fourth.

Davison turned provider on this occasion, accelerating away down the left and into space before cutting a perfect pass back for Ji to turn in from close range.

The visitors continued to deal confidently with the direct Liverpool threat over the remaining 15 minutes as they recorded another clean sheet and kept the destiny of the WSL 1 title in their hands ahead of the final weekend.

After the game, Emma Hayes reflected on a victory that secured her side’s place in the 2016 UEFA Women’s Champions League. Speaking to the official Chelsea website, she said:

‘Firstly, I have to say congratulations to my players for qualifying for the Champions League for the second year in a row, which is not easy to do in this league.

‘We struggled a little with the pitch in the first half and it was a bit too end-to-end for me.

Liverpool created chances but, as we know in football, it’s about taking them. When we created the right opportunities at the right time, we were clinical and that was the difference between the teams in the first half.

‘Working for this club is a pleasure, not a pressure. We go into the last day of the season two points ahead and with a better goal difference than Man City and that’s all we could have asked for.’

Vanguard News


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