One down, three to go? Kerr and Kirby keep Chelsea on course for historic quadruple

Chelsea Continental Cup 2020-21Getty Images

There were no fans at Vicarage Road on Sunday as Chelsea lifted their second successive Continental Cup title, but when the second of their six goals went in, there was a large chorus of ‘ooh, ahh’ in the stands.

Sam Kerr had just been played in by Fran Kirby to score her second of the afternoon after only nine minutes. She finished ruthlessly, across the face of goal, ran to the sideline and, for the first time since she signed for the Blues 16 months ago, pulled out her famous backflip celebration.

“I’m shaking my head because I’ve waited 12 months for that,” Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes said after the game. “She could’ve given me a heads up!

“The second half of the flip was very sloppy. It would’ve been a 4.0 at the Olympics!”

The bench certainly disagreed, and such acrobatics were not the only thing Kerr and Chelsea did that left those in attendance marvelling on Sunday.

The Australia international's link-up play with Kirby was mesmerising, with both having two goals and two assists to their names at half time as they set Hayes’ side on their way to a 6-0 win over Bristol City and their first piece of silverware of the season.

The victory might not appear a massive statement on the face of it. Chelsea were overwhelming favourites, top of the Women’s Super League and holders of the Conti Cup, while Bristol only lifted themselves off the foot of the WSL table on Monday.

However, the ruthless manner in which it was achieved was superb. Particularly in the first half an hour, whenever they had a sight of goal, Chelsea scored.

Emma Hayes Chelsea 2020-21
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Such a clinical display was put on with both Pernille Harder - the most expensive women’s footballer of all time - and Ji So-yun - one of the greatest players in WSL history - left on the bench as unused substitutes.

It is only going to increase the talk of a possible quadruple, a feat understandably shrugged off on a regular basis by Hayes, met with a roll of the eyes, a puff of the cheeks - or both.

After all, only one English team has ever even won the Women’s Champions League, Arsenal back in 2007, never mind the rest. The Gunners that season went on to become the first – and still only – English side to win all four trophies on offer.

They will come up against much sterner defences before the season ends - even if they avoided most of the favourites for the Champions League in Friday’s draw, falling in the most favourable half, for lack of a better word.

A clash with Manchester City, the second toughest defence in the league after Chelsea, in April will, meanwhile, likely decide the WSL title.

But there might not be a defence on the planet that can stop them right now, particularly with the fearsome duo that leads their attack.

Guro Reiten Sam Kerr Chelsea 2020-21
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Kirby is in the form of her life, involved in all six goals on Sunday. Kerr, meanwhile, put on perhaps the most clinical display of her season, becoming the first player to score a hat-trick in a Conti Cup final.

There was one sour note, though.

A horrible looking injury to Maren Mjelde, a player Hayes described “one of the most underrated players in the world” this week, meant she was stretchered off late in the second half.

That the team celebrated while waving the Norwegian’s No.18 shirt around on the podium symbolised how close-knit they are.

“I hate that phrase,” Hayes said this week, after describing how “together” her players are. “I shouldn’t have to say that.”

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With further injuries perhaps unavoidable as the games come thick and fast for this Chelsea team fighting on all fronts – Beth England was missing on Sunday after a knock in Europe, while Sophie Ingle limped around at full time - that team spirit will be crucial to more silverware.

But even more important will be this team keeping their focus as the talk of so much success swells.

With Hayes in charge though - “it’s no guarantee you’re going to [win] just because you’ve done it before” – it is incredibly unlikely you will see this Chelsea side get carried away.