England forward Lauren James notched a hat-trick and contributed an assist as Chelsea secured a decisive victory over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, propelling them six points clear at the summit of the Women’s Super League.
This triumph unfolded in the backdrop of Chelsea’s first home fixture since the announcement that their manager, Emma Hayes, would be concluding her tenure at the end of the season to assume the role of the next manager for the United States women’s team. The hosts took the lead after just 11 minutes when James, positioned 30 yards from goal, skillfully maneuvered past Liverpool’s Gemma Bonner, entered the penalty area, and unleashed a precise left-footed strike that beat Rachael Laws.
Wales captain Sophie Ingle, breaking a Women’s Super League record with her 184th appearance, provided the assist for James’ opener. Despite Liverpool equalizing through an inadvertent own goal by Jess Carter, Chelsea reclaimed the lead as James, back in the starting lineup after being omitted in the Champions League draw against Real Madrid, delivered a pinpoint cross from the left, headed in by Aggie Beever-Jones.
Early in the second half, James extended Chelsea’s advantage by converting Sam Kerr’s pass with a superb low strike. The forward completed her first Women’s Super League hat-trick for Chelsea by capitalizing on a pull-back from substitute Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, before setting up the play for Chelsea’s fifth goal, finished by Sjoeke Nusken.
Despite the impending departure of manager Emma Hayes, Chelsea exhibited their dominance, securing their 19th consecutive Women’s Super League home win since February 2022. Hayes, a pivotal figure since 2012, expressed the difficulty of her decision to leave in the matchday program, emphasizing her deep connection with the club.
Captain Millie Bright, acknowledging the team’s disappointment, highlighted Hayes’ impact on her career and urged the squad to remain focused on the season’s objectives. Chelsea, determined to clinch their fifth successive Women’s Super League title, showcased their unwavering focus and formidable strength, with Lauren James playing a pivotal role in their pursuit of silverware under Hayes’ leadership.