By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium
Chelsea 7 v Leicester City 0
FA Cup 5th round
Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr scored a brace apiece as Chelsea eventually dismantled Leicester City 7-0 to reach the quarterfinal of the FA Cup at Kingsmeadow.
The scoreline suggests a hammering and it was, but the visitors had to play with 10 players after Sophie Howard was red-carded for a reckless challenge on Jonna Andersson after just 16 minutes.
Up to that point, Leicester were the dominate side, but straight after, the Blues showed their class to core, and additional goals from Ji, substitute Beth England and a first goal for Aniek Nouwen saw off the limited resistance for the Midlanders.
Leicester started the brighter, with Freya Gregory showing Millie Bright a clean pair of heels. But her angled left-footer went well wide of Ann-Karin Berger’s left post.
Chelsea, by contrast where sluggish on the ball and lacked the intensity to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
A Leicester corner was met at the far post by Abbie McManus, whose lopping effort only just drifted onto the top netting.
Chelsea survived a triple assault on the goal on 15 minutes as the away side sought to take advantage of the sun in Chelsea’s eyes, a following wind and a poor performance by the Blues.
But on 16 minutes, following a strong and ultimately deigned by referee Emily Heaslip, reckless challenge on Jonna Andersson, Sophie Howard was sent off.
This player advantage spurred the Blues into action, and on 22 minutes they should have scored when a Lauren James and Sam Kerr combination set up Fran Kirby. But the striker saw her shot blocked.
But two minutes later, their player superiority saw Pernille Harder break free, before sending a cool right-footer past goalkeeper Demi Lambourne and into the far corner of her net.
Goal number two, on 35 minutes, saw Harder again finish off a fine move. it was started at the back from Niamh Charles and ended up in the opposition penalty area, where Harder had the simplest of chances to slot home.
Emma Hayes made one change at half-time – Drew Spence on for Sophie Ingle.
Kirby via Kerr should have made it 3-0 on 50 minutes, but Lambourne did well to close down the space and block Kirby’s left-footed effort.
But it was the provider who became the scorer on 61 minutes, when Kerr broke the offside trap raced onto a through ball and flicked the ball with the outside of her right boot past Lambourne to make it 3-0.
Lauren James who, made her first start for the Blues following a lengthy layoff to get to full fitness was replaced on 65 minutes by Jessie Fleming.
A minute later and Ji produced the goal of the game – a wonderful right-footed curler from the edge of the penalty area which sailed wide of the hapless Lambourne and into the top corner of the net.
Kirby screwed the ball wide, when it was easier to score on 72 minutes after a lovely flick on by Harder left the England striker free. But she took a touch and scuffed her shot, sending the ball wide.
Kerr then proceeded to shoot wide from close range with the goal gaping after a goal-setting pass from substitute Beth England on 76 minutes.
The fifth came three minutes later and it was a classy header by Aniek Nouwen.
It was her first goal for the Blues,
Number six was a simple tap in from Kerr while England made her return from injury by smashing home a close range header for the seventh with four minutes left on the clock.
Teams: Chelsea, Berger, Nouwen, Bright, Ji, Ingle, Kirby, James, Kerr, Charles, Harder, Andersson
Subs: Musovic, Carter, England, Reiten, Fleming, Spence, Abullina
Leicester City, Lambourne, Tierney, McManus, Broughton, Flint, Pike, De Graf, Howard, Gregory, Purfield, O’Brien
Subs: Harris, Dev;in. Goodwin, Bailey-Gayle, Barker, Smith, Robinson
Referee: Emily Heaslip