BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea stay in third place in the WSL1 following their hard fought for but ultimately successful 4-0 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion at Broadfield Stadium this afternoon. Second half goals from Magdelana Eriksson, a brace from substitute Bethany England So Yun-Ji
The first half was tough on the champions as Brighton under Hope Powell employed a rugged defensive set-up with quick counter-attacking.
But the Blues kept their patience, and after the first goal on 66 minutes, the home side fell apart.
Chelsea rattled the Brighton crossbar after just two minutes after Marie Hourihan got her fingertips to So Yun Si thumping right-footer from the edge of the home side’s penalty area.
But on the counter Aileen Whelan forced Chelsea stopper Hedvig Lindahl into a classy save, after Jo’s attempted cross-field pass was intercepted needlessly putting the nChelsea defence under pressure.
Ini Umotong then had a chance to open the scoring but after rounding Lindahl, she took too long to shoot. Instead she clipped a ball to in-running Whelen, whose glancing header went wide.
While Chelsea had the edge in the first half, in terms of possession, Brighton looked a tad more dangerous on the counter-attack.
Sophie Ingle smacked the crossbar on 33 minutes while three minutes later, another quick counter by Umotong, who outplayed Millie Bright, saw Lindahl into a near post save to prevent the home side taking the lead.
There were no chances by either side at half-time.
Scotland striker Cuthbert had the first chance of the second half, cutting through the Brighton defence but he left-footed effort was weak and Hourihan had not trouble snaffling the shot.
Chelsea we’re constantly under pressure from the counter-attack and Whelen thought she had got her shot over Lindahl but she managed to grab it at the last second.
Drew Spence was sacrificed on 60 minutes for striker Bethany England as Emma Hayes tried to add greater firepower to her attack.
A quick counter box their own saw Jonna Andersson zip down the left win. Her cross into the centre was net by Ji, but the South Korean’s right-footed drive, inched past Hourihan’s left upright.
Livewire Ellie Bright smacked the Chelsea post on 63 minutes as the Blues gave the ball away again, putting the defence on the back foot. It was a lucky escape for the Londoners.
Chelsea finally broke the deadlock on 66 minutes a fine free kick by Karen Carney on the left was met by a deft finish buy Magdalena Eriksson on the six-yard box and she guided the ball over then line.
Skipper Karen Carney was then replaced by Ali Riley.
This was followed bu goal number two three minutes later. The perfect clipped defence-splitter by Ji and England looping header sailed into the back of the net.
Ramona Bachmann was replaced by Jess Carter.
Ingle had a header cleared off the line and it also hit the underside of the Seagull’s crossbar as the Blues went in search of a third.
Ji duly smashed home number three from just inside the penalty area with 15 minutes on the clock as the home side’s defence crumbled.
England rammed home her second and Chelsea’s fourth in the fin al minute of the match.
Team: Chelsea: Lindahl, Blundell, Bright, Ingle, Carney, Ji, Eriksson, Andersson, Cuthbert, Bachmann, Spence
Subs: carter, Riley, England, Engman, Cooper, Bailey, Telford
Hourihan, Gibbons, Rafferty, Whelan, Barton, Umotong, Peplow, Green, Brazil, Williams, Le Tissier
Subs: Gillett, Burt, Naktiel, Leg, Perry, Brett, Simpkins
Referee David Rick