On a chilly afternoon in Watford, Chelsea proved too hot for Bristol City to handle. The Blues are once again victorious in the Continental Cup after dismantling Matt Beard's Vixens at Vicarage Road. The 6-0 win secures back-to-back titles for the English heavyweights, who showed their Women's Super League rivals no mercy.
Fran Kirby must make Team GB squad
Eager to retain their crown, Chelsea wasted no time in getting themselves out in front. Less than two minutes after the first whistle, Sam Kerr slotted home a perfectly placed ball from Fran Kirby who made easy work of carving open the Bristol defence. The Aussie doubled up with another goal and her trademark backflip not even ten minutes later through another Kirby assist.
The provider then bagged a brace of her own before half-time. Kirby's presence in Chelsea's attack was devastating for Bristol, who simply couldn't contain her clinical efforts. The pair are rapidly becoming one of the most frightening attacking duos in the world right now.
As the Tokyo Olympics draw near, Hege Riise will be watching these fixtures very closely as she looks to finalise her team. Kirby's name should be one of the first on the squad list as she boasts 14 goals and seven assists across the WSL and Champions League this season.
Chelsea's squad depth is something to be feared
Whilst Kerr and Kirby ran riot in front of goal, Chelsea's list of substitutes was hardly the talking point of the game. That was until Emma Hayes had the luxury of resting key players and using all five of her available substitutions. The manager brought Drew Spence, Erin Cuthbert, Hannah Blundell, Niamh Charles and Jess Carter onto the pitch in the second half.
Also waiting in the wings was South Korea international Ji So-yun, who scored six league goals from midfield last season. The fact that Ji failed to make the starting lineup or even grab a cameo appearance just shows how talented this Chelsea side is.
The Blues boast a widespread range of talent, from young starlets to some of the most clinical performers in the world. They were without the influence of Pernille Harder on Sunday, who missed the tie due to injury. Even with the super striker out of action, Chelsea still looked blistering in their attacking threat.
Maren Mjelde injury a huge blow
There was a lengthy break in play after Maren Mjelde's cries of agony echoed around Vicarage Road. The commanding Norwegian was stretchered off the pitch just after the 80th minute, forcing Chelsea down to ten.
Mjelde has played a huge part in Chelsea's Champions League run, scoring twice from the penalty spot across the two Round of 16 legs against Atletico Madrid. Her cool composure helped secure the Blues' spot in the quarter-finals and she has missed just one match in the WSL this term. Mjelde's presence will be sorely missed in both England and Europe for the rest of the season if her injury sets her back long-term.
Bristol can brush off Conti Cup defeat
Despite the 6-0 loss, Bristol City's hopes won't be as dashed as some may think. GiveMeSport Women recently spoke to Robins defender Laura Rafferty ahead of the final in Watford and she stressed the positives of entering the clash as the underdogs.
Rafferty admitted that there was no pressure on Bristol to perform, as many had already started carving Chelsea's name onto the cup. Indeed, the champions were in their element as they sliced through the red shirts, making their emphatic performance look far too easy.
Bristol will have entered the game expecting a tough battle against one of the best teams in the world. They have already faced Chelsea twice in the WSL this season and suffered an aggregate loss of 14-0. Losing to Hayes' clinical Blues is not something the Vixens are strangers to and their minimal expectations against them in the Conti Cup final should not put a dent in their motivation to survive relegation this season.
Ebony Salmon too good for relegation
Despite jumping out of the drop zone thanks to their win against Reading, Bristol's relegation fight is still alive. Just the one point separates them and bottom-of-the-table West Ham, who have a game in-hand over the Robins. Matt Beard's former side could still secure their survival as they breathe down his neck.
It will be a scrap that goes right down to the wire. The chances of Bristol being demoted to the Championship are still high and that could be the turning point in Ebony Salmon's career.
The young Lioness – who recently earned her first senior cap – has turned a lot of heads with her performances this season. She has been their only real threat in front of goal, scoring six goals despite Bristol's overall disappointing form this campaign.
Salmon will have undoubtedly popped up on the radar of the country's most elite sides and a summer move could well be on the cards if Bristol don't survive their relegation battle.News Now - Sport News