Chelsea Ladies secured their second 6-0 league win of the week with a dominant display away at Sunderland.
Gemma Davison led the way with a brace, with four other players adding their names to the scoresheet.
The Blues only had a slender 1-0 lead at half-time thanks to Fran Kirby’s strike, but ultimately superior fitness and energetic substitutes saw the visitors pull away for a comfortable three points.
Chelsea have now scored 18 in the last three against Sunderland, conceding none.
Manager Emma Hayes was unable to travel due to illness but her side were clearly unstirred. There were three personnel changes to the lineup, as Ramona Bachmann and Millie Bright made their season debuts. There were also positional changes, as Ji So-yun started in the frontline and Karen Carney dropped into the wingback role.
From the off it was the Blues setting the high tempo and dominating possession but to their credit Sunderland limited the clear-cut chances.
The best chance of the early exchanges fell to the usually-clinical Kirby but she could only steer her header wide from Ji’s looping cross.
Further chances were squandered by both Bright and Katie Chapman, but eventually the deadlock was broken with a classy strike from Kirby. After she’d won possession on the edge of the area, the striker somehow found space to dig out the ball and send it into the top right-hand corner.
One key factor of Chelsea’s strong first-half was the ubiquitous Chapman; the captain’s ability to recognise when to drop in and allow the defence to push on in her place gave both Bright and Eriksson the freedom to bomb forward and overload the Sunderland defenders on multiple occasions.
The second-half started with the same undertones as the first, with Chelsea clearly the dominant side.
It took just 11 minutes for the Blues to essentially end the game as a contest, the effervescent Davison making another powerful run from the left wing to the top of the box and finishing with a flourish, a low and hard hit into the bottom left corner with her right foot.
After that the floodgates opened; Davison bagged another with a thumping close-range finish after Ji sent a ball right across the Sunderland goal, before the Korean scored the best of the bunch – a smooth drag-back opening up the space for a beautiful right-footed shot to cannon in off the crossbar.
Substitute Erin Cuthbert added the fifth with an inch-perfect finish from the edge of the box before Eni Aluko rounded off the scoring with a simple tap-in from another Ji cut-back.
The win puts Chelsea back on top of the WSL1 table, and will give the team great confidence heading into Wednesday’s Champions League test.
Goals: Kirby 23, Davison 56, Davison 60, Ji 73, Cuthbert 80, Aluko 82
Chelsea Ladies (L-R): Lindahl; Eriksson, Flaherty, Bright; Davison, Mjelde, Chapman (Spence), Carney; Bachmann (Cuthbert), Kirby (Aluko), Ji
CLFCfans’ Player of the Match: the whole team