A quartet of goals from former Royal Fran Kirby and a late strike from substitute Ji So-yun saw reigning champions walk away from RG2 with a 5-0 win to kick-start the new year.
Both sides had early opportunities as they pushed forward. Reading had some nice link-up play between Deanna Cooper, Kristine Leine and Fara Williams to almost get captain Natasha Harding through on goal. Moments later Emma Harries felt she was fouled in the box as the Royals appealed a penalty, but the referee waved it away.
At the other end, Sam Kerr managed to get a close-range shot on goal, but Royals keeper Grace Moloney stopped the ball perfectly, only for the offside flag to be raised anyway.
The deadlock was lifted just after the quarter-hour mark as former Royal Fran Kirby got on the end of a long-ball nodded onto her by Kerr and found herself in acres of space. She went around Moloney and slotted into the net to open the scoring for the visitors.
Reading tried to keep possession and slow the pace of the game around, forcing a corner a few minutes after the opening goal, but Chelsea broke through the middle again, through Kirby, who once again slotted past Moloney to double her and Chelsea’s tally.
Both sides saw out the remained of the first half battling it out in the middle of the park, until Chelsea won a free-kick at 30 yards on the 45th minute. It was floated in to the back post, where Kerr managed to keep it in and touch the ball back in for Kirby to nod in her third and complete the perfect first-half hat-trick.
Half time: Reading FC Women 0 – 3 Chelsea Women
Chelsea began the second-half as they ended the first, leaving Jess Fishlock to make an incredibly well-timed challenge to take the ball away from under Fran Kirby’s feet, as the striker was in front of goal and looking for number four.
The second-half was less than ten minutes old when Kirby did indeed net number four, however, again from a header, as she converted from a corner from Guro Reiten.
The substitutions began coming in thick-and-fast as both sides looked to implement their game plans through fresh sets of legs. Reading made the more attacking of changes, throwing Lauren Bruton, Rachel Rowe and Danielle Carter on the field, while Molly Bartrip replaced Lily Woodham who took a knock.
Despite their attacking output slowing considerably, The Blues were able to net number five and it was surprisingly a player other than Fran Kirby. A looping cross came into the Reading box and found its way to substitute Ji So-yun, who took a touch before finishing coolly to complete a great afternoon in RG2 for the reigning champions.
Full time: Reading FC Women 0 – 5 Chelsea Women
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Leine, Cooper, Mitchell, Woodham (Bartrip 74’), Fishlock, James, Williams (Rowe 60’), Eikeland, Harries (Bruton 46’), Harding
Substitutes not used: Stewart, Skeels, Roberts, Carter
Yellow cards: Williams (45’), Moloney (45’)
Chelsea Women: Berger, Bright, Ingle, Leupolz, Reiten (Fleming 63’), Kirby, Mjelde, Kerr (England 63’), Charles (Harder 72’), Cuthbert (Ji 63’), Andersson (Eriksson 72’)
Substitutes not used: Blundell, Telford
Goals: Kirby (16, 23, 45, 53) Ji (86’)
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