Sunderland Ladies succumb to Chelsea power

Chelsea's Fran Kirby scores a brilliant opener for Chelsea.
Chelsea's Fran Kirby scores a brilliant opener for Chelsea.

Chelsea’s power and strength in depth proved too much for Sunderland to handle on Saturday night.

Starting life at Mariners Park, Sunderland fought gamely but ran out of steam as the Blues sealed their second successive win at the start of the WSL1 campaign.

That class was highlighted by Fran Kirby’s wonderful 22nd minute goal, before a brace from Gemma Davison and a Ji So Yun goal extended the lead.

Substitute Erin Cuthbert added a fifth before fellow sub Eniola Aluka made it six.

Sunderland skipper Lucy Staniforth said: “I thought we did really well in the first half. We had a game-plan, we looked sharp and we looked dangerous going forward.

“But the class that Chelsea have got, even off the bench, you can’t take your foot off the pedal.

“Maybe we just got a little bit sloppy and their class shone through. We worked on containing and keeping the game close all week but we just got a bit tired towards the end and they managed to break us down.

“That is why they are there, that’s their quality. It’s a big learning curve for us.

“Maybe on a different day I’d sit there and applaud some of the goals but today is not what we wanted to see.

“There were a few errors in the build up to some of the goals. It’s a shame we conceded them but they’ve got great players, you can’t deny that.”

Kirby had wasted a 14th minute opportunity, heading wide when unmarked at the far post.

The England star atoned for that error with a goal to be proud of eight minutes later - picking up possession on the edge of the box and curling an unstoppable drive into the top corner.

Chelsea’s second goal was a matter of when, not if, and it duly arrived from the boot of Davison.

She was allowed to make progress down the left flank before cutting in and firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Davison then doubled her tally for the night in the 61st minute, slamming home Ji’s low cross from the right to put the game out of sight for the hosts.

Ji then put more distance between the sides with a Chelsea fourth – smashing an 18-yard 73rd minute strike in off the underside of the bar.

Cuthbert’s low 82nd minute strike after a corner was Chelsea’s fifth, and Aluko tapped home a sixth from close range seconds later as Chelsea romped to victory.

Sunderland: Preuss, Brown, Stewart, Sharp, Williams, Sjoman, Staniforth, Lipka, Wyne, Bruinenberg, Joice. Subs not used: Laws, Lambert, Young, Dodds, Galloway, Watt. Bookings: Sjoman 74

Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Flaherty, Eriksson, Carney, Chapman (Spence 65), Mjelde, Davison; Ji So Yun, Bachmann (Cuthbert 63), Kirby (Aluko 68). Subs not used: Telford, Thorisdottir, Blundell, Rafferty.

Attendance: 789 Ref: Dean Hulme

To buy tickets to an FA Women’s Super League, go to: www.fawsl.com/tickets

l In WSL2, Dani Buet buried a late penalty as Brighton edged past Durham Women 3-2.

Fliss Gibbons opened the scoring for Brighton and Ini Umotong made it two for the hosts when she showed incredible agility to score with a brilliant overhead kick.

But two goals from Beth Hepple, the second direct from a free kick after goalkeeper Lucy Gillett was sent off, levelled matters before Buet’s late spotkick, given when Caroline Dixon brought down Gibbons.