Playing the all-English Champions League final on home soil at Wembley instead of Istanbul is proving problematic.
Matildas captain Sam Kerr has enjoyed her finest day in Chelsea blue, scoring a hat-trick as they successfully defended their Women’s League Cup title with a 6-0 hammering of Bristol City in the final.
Kerr took just 90 seconds on Sunday to put Chelsea ahead in the showdown at Watford’s Vicarage Road and, along with her two-goal attacking partner Fran Kirby, then ran City ragged for an hour with their ‘Special K’ double act.
The razor-sharp Australian also struck in the tenth minute and three minutes after halftime as she completed her treble in a quite dominant performance from the English champions.
On the day she took her season’s tally to 16 goals in all competitions, the 27-year-old Kerr also provided a superb first-half assist for English international Kirby as the pair were hailed by Chelsea manager Emma Hayes as “unbelievable”.
Eventually, Hayes brought the pair off after just an hour to give them some rest with Chelsea, who’d already lifted the Community Shield at the start of the season, now eyeing a grand slam of trophies, with the Champions League, Super League and FA Cup still in their sights.
Their otherwise perfect day, though, was marred late on as their Norwegian star Maren Mjelde had to be carried off on a stretcher, needing air and gas, with an evidently serious knee injury that later reduced one or two of her teammates to tears.
Inevitably, there was, at first, a muted feeling to her teammates’ celebrations as they paraded Mjelde’s shirt on the podium until the trophy was presented and the champagne flowed.
“It’s what I came to Chelsea for,” said Kerr. “It was a massive team performance. We wanted to retain it and with the performance today, we really deserved it.”
It felt like the best performance in her ever-improving Chelsea career – something that seemed to be illustrated by how she felt happy enough to give her teammates the first view of her trademark backflip goal celebration after she’d netted the second.
“Everybody’s been waiting for it, so it was fun,” laughed Kerr, who’s enjoyed performing the somersault from Perth to Chicago during her career.
“I’m a bit tired from all of the games we’ve had recently, to be honest, and I nearly didn’t make it! But the girls had been asking to see it.”
It could have been in evidence even more often as Kerr could conceivably have netted a double hat-trick, with two brilliant last-ditch tackles from defenders and one great stop from City keeper Sophie Baggaley stopping her in her tracks.
She was also typically unselfish, looking to let teammates get in on the scoring act when her pace and skill could have seen her go for goal herself as Chelsea earned the biggest-ever League Cup final win.
Kerr’s first goal was a tap-in virtually in the goal-line as she latched onto player-of-the-match Kirby’s brilliant diagonal ball while her second was a cracking left-foot shot into the corner, after again being freed by her strike partner.
After Kirby had then scored her first following a goalkeeping error, Kerr turned provider, slipping a super through ball into the Englishwomen’s path for Chelsea’s fourth.
Kirby’s lovely slipped pass saw Kerr slot into the gaping net for her hat-trick just after the break before Guro Reiten made it six.