Chelsea reached their sixth Continental Cup semi-final in as many seasons as they eased past Tottenham at Brisbane Road. A brace from Sam Kerr and strike from Fran Kirby set Emma Hayes’ side up for a 3-1 victory over their London rivals.
It wasn’t like Tottenham didn’t put up a fight. In fact, they were the better side for the first quarter of the game, putting in a stronger showing than the 3-0 loss at Stamford Bridge. Rehanne Skinner’s team started the game brightly as Mana Iwabuchi and Bethany England lined up together for the first time. Decision-making was their issue though. The ideas were there but the execution let them down as they failed to punish the space being afforded to them down the right.
A few mistakes from the hosts saw Chelsea grow into the game as Lauren James, Jelena Cankovic and Guro Reiten buzzed around with menace and energy. The opener came just before the break as Reiten played Erin Cuthbert through in the box with Sam Kerr turning her shot home.
Drew Spence had the chance to level a minute into the second half but from there it was all Chelsea. Fran Kirby, on for Cankovic, doubled the score in the 68th minute before her quick thinking off a free kick saw Kerr through for their third minutes from time.
Player of the Match | Lauren James
James put in an electric performance that saw Chelsea break down a resilient Tottenham. She glided effortlessly around the pitch for the best part of 90 minutes, her dancing feet proving elusive for the increasingly frustrated Kerys Harrop. A danger throughout, she and Cankovic were the Blues’ brightest sparks in the first half. James’ form continued into the second and she provided the assist for their second goal.
Goal of the Match | Fran Kirby
Chelsea’s second was one that you could only sit an applaud. Millie Bright had been pinging her trademark cross-field pass around all evening and found James in space once more. One touch saw her leave Harrop for dead before setting Kirby up in the box. The finish was just as a sublime – a curling effort that dipped agonisingly away from the fingertips of the outstretched Tinja-Riikka Korpela.
That is magic from @frankirby ✨#ContiCup @ChelseaFCW pic.twitter.com/gXuA5s9yjf
— Barclays Women's Super League (@BarclaysWSL) January 25, 2023
- Bethany England + Mana Iwabuchi
Spurs’ two marquee signings showed plenty of promise as they lined up from the first time. England was at the heart of everything for Tottenham in the first half, chasing tirelessly and timing her runs well to break the Blues’ defensive line. Meanwhile, Iwabuchi gave an inkling of what Spurs’ fans can expect from her over the next few months. Her ability on the ball was clear to see and watching her relationship with Spence and England develop should be an enthralling prospect.
- Fran Kirby’s Cameo
Kirby’s 30-minute cameo showed exactly why she is right up there as one of the best players in the league. Her ability to manipulate the spaces in between, quick-thinking on the ball and almost telepathic relationship with her teammates is a joy to watch. In the half hour she was on, she added to her season’s goal tally before instigating Chelsea’s third. It was a performance that should get both Chelsea and England fans very excited for the year ahead.
- Drew Spence scoring against her own team
It must be a challenge coming up against the team you considered your home for 12 years, but Spence looked like she wanted to prove a point from the very first whistle. One of Tottenham’s best players on the night, she almost levelled proceedings in the second half. Her goal did eventually come in spectacular fashion – a 20-yard rocket fired into the top corner with what was essentially the last kick of the game. Barely a celebration followed, as you would expect, but it was a goal that showed her quality and provided a foundation for Spurs to build on.
Quote of the evening
Quote of the Day
It took us about 30 minutes to find a rhythm. They went to five at the back so we had to adapt. After that, until half-time, we started to take control of the game. Second half we were completely dominant, and perhaps could have had more goals. We went down to 10 when we conceded, but I was really impressed with the team’s performance, particularly in the second half.