Chelsea breezed their way into the FA Cup Semi-Finals, winning their Quarter Final match against Birmingham City 5-0 on Sunday afternoon at Kingsmeadow. It was a result many were expecting as a team sitting at the bottom of the WSL table took on one competing for the top spot, but it was certainly a score line that didn’t seem sure from the very beginning. Whilst Chelsea maintained possession consistently, they couldn’t find the back of the net until moments before the half-time whistle. In the second half however, the goals began to pour in.
Emma Hayes made 5 changes to her side with Ann-Katrin Berger, Ji So Yun, Beth England, and Drew Spence starting, plus the long-awaited return of captain Magda Eriksson after injury. A couple of changes were made by Darren Carter too, with Abi Cowie and Eleanor Ryan-Doyle joining the line-up in place of Harriet Scott and Rebecca Holloway.
As the game got underway, Chelsea established themselves as the dominant side with Birmingham defending on the goal line to keep them at bay. Early on there was a glimmer of hope for the visitors as Lucy Quinn created the first opening, taking a shot from outside the box, but her attempt flew above the bar and landed on the roof of Berger’s net. A few close calls for the hosts followed, including a shot just straying wide of the goal from Ji So-Yun assisted by Beth England, and an incredible effort from Millie Bright from 30 yards back that hit the woodwork.
Chelsea’s breakthrough came shortly before halftime with Captain Magda Eriksson delivering a diving header from inside the six-yard box, putting The Blues’ fan’s minds at ease just before the break.
When both teams returned to the pitch, Chelsea were able to keep up the momentum and intensify the pressure on Birmingham. In the 55th minute Niamh Charles teed up Drew Spence at the edge of the penalty area, doubling Chelsea’s lead and beginning the Blues’ second-half flurry of goals.
Shortly after, Spence cleared Birmingham’s defence and evaded keeper Marie Hourihan with a superb back-heel assist, allowing Beth England to tap one into an empty goal from close range.
By the 65th minute it was clear the home side had taken control. Niamh Charles capitalised on Birmingham’s failure to clear a corner, looping a header to put the ball past the keeper and Veatriki Sarri and score the team’s fourth goal.
No doubt comforted by a four-goal lead, Emma Hayes made three changes at 67 minutes, bringing off Ji So-Yun, Fleming and Charles to give Lauren James, Alsu Abdullina and Maren Mjelde game time.
Substitute Abdullina played a part in the fifth and final goal, flicking the ball over to England for her to fire it into the bottom corner with her left foot.
In a last-minute display of dominance, Andersson looked to add to Chelsea’s tally, but her header bounced onto the crossbar, denying the side an even larger lead.
For Birmingham City, the loss ends their run in the FA Cup.
Chelsea now join Arsenal, Manchester City and West Ham in the FA Cup Semi-Finals. The FA Cup draw will take place Monday 21st March at 18:30 live on BBC News Sportsday.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Berger, Bright, Ingle, Carter, England, So-Yun (James 67), Eriksson, Fleming (Abdullina 67), Charles (Mjelde 67), Spence, Andersson
Substitutes not used: Mušović, Nouwen, Reiten, Kerr, Cuthbert.
Birmingham City (4-3-3): Hourihan, Cowie, Quinn, Lawley, Robertson, Finn, Murray, Sarri, Ryan-Doyle (Cole 73), Lucy Quinn (Jenner 87), Smith.
Substitutes not used: Ramsey, Jones, Simkin, Jenner, Wildgoose.
Referee: Lauren Impey