Pint-sized marvel Fran Kirby scored a hat-trick as Chelsea Women breezed past Fiorentina in Italy with a stunning, goal-laden performance which shrieked a crystal-clear message. The goal drought is over, and the Blues are gunning for European glory this season… even if the domestic league is now beyond their grasp.
Inspired by club captain Karen Carney, and with a rock-solid defence at the back, Chelsea put their bizarre scoring dry spell behind them with this emphatic and at times dazzling away victory.
Having gone into the Champions League encounter a goal to the good from the first leg at Kingsmeadow, the Blues lit up the Artemio Franchi stadium with two first-half goals, a strike by Drew Spence and the first of Kirby’s trilogy, while narrowly missing on three other occasions, where the woodwork came to Fiorentina’s aid.
Four second-half goals followed as a pent-up tide of scoring was suddenly and devastatingly unleashed. The clean sheet was a further bonus, although there was a slight dent in the celebrations after Millie Bright was red-carded late on, as last defender denying a scoring chance, and will miss the next Champions League match.
Kirby scored a penalty in the second half, then teed up Erin Cuthbert for Chelsea’s fourth of the night before completing a hat-trick in style to claim the match ball.
With the Blues back to their scoring ways of last season again, sub Ramona Bachmann added a sixth.
Intriguingly, in interviews on the Kingsmeadow pitch at the weekend after her team were beaten by the odd goal, Liverpool manager Vicky Jepson said she had been relieved that only a small scoring margin had separated the sides, and said that drought-affected Chelsea’s strikers were overdue a scoring feast.
That feast came, to many people’s surprise, away in Tuscany against a team that had restricted Chelsea to a single-goal win in the first leg.
There is now a long lull in the Champions League, while Chelsea try to claw back some of the ground lost to the likes of Arsenal and Birmingham City in the WSL, and focus on the FA Cup and Conti Cup.
The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals, which don’t take place until March, is on Friday November 9. Bring on the big guns!