Chelsea’s dreams of a domestic treble go on after producing a dominant performance against Liverpool.
However, a combination of great saves from Anke Preuss and excellent organised defence ensured that Emma Hayes’ side never quite managed to be as consistently penetrative in attack as they would have liked. The consequence was that, against all the odds, the Reds were still in the tie until the very end.
Despite only winning one WSL game all season, Liverpool have an excellent defensive record, conceding an average of just 1.23 goals per game – a hugely impressive statistic for a team who have lost nine league matches this term.
Chelsea welcomed back Ji-So Yun and Sam Kerr from international duty in the Asian qualifiers for the Olympic Games. Indeed, Kerr had only played for Australia just four days earlier in Parramatta.
With all the play from the very start, it took Chelsea almost fifteen minutes to break through the shackles of the Merseysiders’ defence, but Erin Cuthbert’s effort was snaffled up. Five minutes later, Preuss made a sensational save with her feet to deny Ji-So Yun.
Shortly afterwards, Norwegian star Guro Reiten, in fantastic form over the past few months had an effort cleared off the line by Sophie Bradley-Auckland as Chelsea turned the screw tighter.
However, Reiten was not to be denied and, from Sophie Ingle’s ball, she smashed an absolutely stunner of a volley into the roof of the net. It was a goal that deserved to win any game.
Her fellow countrywoman Maren Mjelde almost added a second when her shot from the right went narrowly over with Preuss beaten.
Liverpool responded with a rare attack on the break when Melissa Lawley combined with Niamh Charles. Charles’ attempt to play in Ashley Hodson was intercepted.
The second half was a carbon copy of the first in terms of Chelsea dominance. Preuss was called upon to make another great save to deny Cuthbert’s effort.
The Reds ventured forward seldomly, but from one of their sorties, Jemma Purfield passed to Ashley Hodson who returned the favour, but Magda Eriksson headed away the danger.
Eriksson was involved at the other end when her header from Maren Mjelde’s free-kick went close.
With Chelsea only holding a single goal advantage for all their possession and territory, there was a scary moment for the home support near the end when Niamh Charles’ fierce effort was well held by Ann-Katrin Berger.
The final whistle was greeted by rapturous cheers from the home support. The Blues go on to face Liverpool’s cross-city rivals Everton away in the Quarter-Finals. Before attention can turn to that though, there is the small matter of a top of the table WSL clash away to Manchester City this Sunday and the Continental Cup Final against Arsenal at Nottingham Forest FC the following weekend.
Chelsea: Berger, Blundell, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson, Mjelde, Ingle, Ji, Reiten, England, Cuthbert. Subs: Kerr (for Blundell), Spence (for Ji), Bachmann (for England, Thorisdottir, Carter, Engman, Telford (GK).
Scorer: Reiten 26.
Liverpool: Preuss, Fahey, Bradley-Auckland, Lawley, Hodson, Charles, Jane, Purfield, Linnett, Furness. Subs: Clarke (for Hodson), Robe (for Jane), Murray (for Linnett), Foster, Rogers, Roberts.