Chelsea 1-0 Spurs: Beth England scores superb early goal as hosts start season with win in front of 25,000 fans
- Chelsea Women started the season with a 1-0 victory against Tottenham Women
- Beth England scored the only goal at Stamford Bridge with a superb early strike
- Rachel Furness came close to equalising for Tottenham but her effort was saved
- Blues hit post twice in quick succession through Drew Spence and Guro Reiten
- Just under 25,000 supporters were in attendance – Chelsea’s record crowd
Beth England’s early thunderbolt earned Chelsea victory over London rivals Tottenham in front of a record crowd at Stamford Bridge.
Emma Hayes’s side usually play their home Women’s Super League games at the 4,850-capacity Kingsmeadow but 24,564 turned up to Stamford Bridge on Sunday – five times higher than Chelsea’s previous highest attendance.
The legacy from this summer’s Women’s World Cup lives on.
Beth England celebrates with team-mate Hannah Blundell after opening the scoring
England found the net after just four minutes to put Chelsea in the lead against Tottenham
England is delighted after her early goal put Chelsea in the ascendancy against Tottenham
More than 11million people watched the Lionesses face USA in July so it was fitting that Chelsea’s England made the difference on Sunday.
Only four minutes were on the clock when the midfielder muscled Ria Percival off the ball 30 yards from goal.
Allowed time to shoot, the 25-year-old unleashed a thunderous left-foot effort which flew beyond the diving Becky Spencer and into the top corner.
If Caroline Weir’s rocket for Manchester City on Saturday set the tone for the new season, Hayes’ side showed at Stamford Bridge that they mean business, too.
For much of the first half it was one-way traffic and after half an hour Spencer had to save smartly to stop Hannah Blundell doubling Chelsea’s lead.
Tottenham, enjoying their first season in the top-flight, did not let the early setback drown them, however.
Tottenham’s Coral-Jade Haines is challenged by Chelsea’s Drew Spence at Stamford Bridge
Ria Percival of Tottenham is tackled by Chelsea’s Magdalena Eriksson during the first half
Slowly they found a foothold and Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson had to react quickly to clear after goalkeeper Ann-Katrin could only parry a shot straight into the danger zone.
Shortly before the break, Coral-Jade Haines curled just wide for the visitors and within five minutes of the second half, Rachel Furness had a shot well stopped by Berger.
That helped the travelling fans find their voice but soon Spurs were living dangerously once more.
Chelsea Women: Berger; Mjelde, Bright, Ericsson, Blundell (Andersson 80); Reiten, Spence (Cooper 62), Ingle, Ji; England, Engman (Cuthbert 73)
Subs: Thorisdottir, Asante, Telford, Fleming
Goal: England 4
Tottenham Women: Spencer; Neville, Worm (Ayane 85), Godfrey, Percival; Davison, Furness, Haines (Peplow 46), Schillaci; Quinn (Addison 73), Graham
Subs: Morgan, Leon, McLean, Filbey
Booked: Schillaci, Furness
Tottenham’s Jenna Schillaci slides in as she attempts to stop Spence from making an impact
Gemma Davison of Tottenham is tracked by Chelsea’s Blundell and Ji So-yun
Ji So-yun attempts to control the ball for Chelsea while under pressure from Rachel Furness
Again the threat came from range as Drew Spence fired at goal from outside the box. Spencer did well to tip it on to bar but the ball fell kindly to Chelsea’s Guro Reiten who, on debut, headed at goal from inside the area.
Once again, though, the ball came back off the post before it was scrambled clear.
In the closing stages Spencer had to stretch once more to tip over a free-kick and Hannah Godfrey made a crucial last-ditch block as Chelsea threatened to put the game to bed.
But though the hosts were wasteful on the break, they weren’t made to pay for a hatful of missed chances as England’s goal proved enough to secure three points.