BY PAUL LAGAN
So-Yun Ji produced a stunning 25 yard blaster to turn seeming defeat to a crucial 3-1 win against West Ham to put the Blues top of the WSL1 table for the first time this season.
Missing a host of first half chances the visitors went behind to a soft Adrianna Léon goal midway through the second half.
But despite not firing on full cylinders, substitute Fran Kirby turned the game for the west Londoners with her neat set-up play, allowing Ji to tee up Sophie Ingle to thump home the equaliser from just inside the home side’s penalty area. Then three minutes later, on 72 minutes, South Korean Ji picked up the ball, took one touch before arrowing the perfect blaster high and wide of goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan to put the Blues into the lead and ultimately three vital points.
Kirby then produced brilliant keep ball before sliding the ball to substitute Drew Spence, who with the final touch of the added four minutes drove the ball past Brosnan.
Erin Cuthbert had the first effort on goal, her low, left-footer from the edge of the Hammers penalty area, on three minutes failed to trouble Brosnan.
A Ramona Bachmann shot on goal, saw Brooke Hendrix clear off the line as the Blues went for the jugular early.
Last-ditch tackling denied Guro Reiten a goal 13 minutes after an excellent counter-attack started by Cuthbert and involving Bachmann and Ji saw the Norway winger strike her effort goal-bound, but Gilly Flaherty blocked the shot.
Skipper Magdalena Eriksson was next up to try her luck, but her header on 17 minutes was well snaffled by Brosnan.
The occasional foray up from by the home side saw Martha Thomas have a shot at goal a minute later but Ann-Karin Berger dived into the ball expertly.
A defence-splitting pass by Sophie Ingle, found England but her scooping left-footer took a slight deflection and clipped the crossbar for a corner on 21 minutes.
But both Blues could not maintain their intensity, a;owing West Ham a foothold into the game. Alisha Lehman should have put the Hammers into the lead with seconds of the first half left, but she slashed her right-footer from a slight angle high over Berger’s crossbar.
There were no changes by either side at half time.
A scuffed half-chance by Bachmann, on 55 minutes gave the visitors some hope they might finally pierce the stoic West Ham rearguard.
Sensationally West Ham took the lead when with he first touch, having just come on Adrian Léon slotted hime from close range on 58 minutes.
A Millie Bright header from a Cuthbert corner was well held by Brosnan two minutes late.
Emma Hayes decided to replace Cuthbert for Fran Kirby on 62 minutes.
Kirby’s bicycle kick on 66 minutes was goal-bound, but not powerful enough to trouble the Hammers stopper.
Bright rattle the crossbar within thunderous effort as the Blues went all out to salvage the game.
The Blues finally breached the defence when an inspired Kirby move found Ji who cut the ball back to in-running Ingle, and the Wales midfielder picked her spot perfectly, caressing a solid left footer past Brosnan.
Three minutes later on 72 minutes Chelsea took the lead when Jo produced a piece of South Korean magic – she thumped home a sensational 25- yarder that sailed past an desperate dive by Brosnan and the ball rammed itself into the top left-hand corner of her net.
Hayes second substitution saw Drew Spence on for Bachmann with six minutes left on the clock.
Then Spence provided the final action with the final kick of the game to slot home number three after another brilliant set-up play by Kirby.
Chelsea are away to Lewes next Saturday in group match of the Continental Tyres Cup.
Teams: Chelsea, Berger, Bright, Ingle, England,Ji, Reiten, Eriksson, Mjelde, Andersson, Cuthbert, Bachmann.
Subs, Carter, Kirby, Cooper, Spence, Telford, Fleming
West Ham, Brosnan, Hendrix, Flaherty, Lehman, Thomas, Baunach, Galbadaarachchi, So-Hyun, Dali, Midd, Vettterlein
Subs. Moorhouse, Redisch Kvamme, Leon