Despite the many possibilities they had pleaded for, there was no sign of falling head and finally the target we had been threatening since practically the first minute arrived – and it was as simple as it gets. Cuthbert takes a corner kick towards the nearby post, Eriksson’s head seems to be the first to reach him when many players converge on the ball and the advantage is ours. Nobody inside Kingsmeadow could deny that it was deserved.
Having barely threatened the whole game, Villa suddenly came out of their shell and they were the width of the pole away from jogging with their first blow of anger. It was all Sophie Haywood’s work as she ran through the right side of Chelsea defense and shot on goal. Audible jerks were heard from the previously exultant Blues stand, although Berger will argue that he had fired well.
Normal service resumed immediately as we returned to the offensive, staring at Villa deep in their territory. Once again, however, they had a defender in the right place at the right time, this time eliminating a header from Kerr off the line.
Australia’s wait for Chelsea’s first goal continues, as a couple of minutes later Murphy came to her place for her third substitute appearance of the season. Jamie Lee-Napier also joined the action immediately after Cuthbert gave way to his Scottish partner.
However, we continued to apply pressure. Ingle stung Rogers’ palms with a swirling left vortex from the edge of the box that would surely have been destined for the back of the net if it had been a courtyard on either side of the goalkeeper, and the clincher finally came.
Ji had only been on the field for a few minutes when she got a low result at home, but all the credit must go to the two Blues heavily involved in the accumulation. Napier’s positive run from the deep cut provided the advantage and the intelligent passage in England opened the door to the South Korean 2-0.
However, there was another turning point coming, as Kerri Welsh, who had arrived a few seconds earlier, had become the last substitute to make a significant contribution, taking advantage of a sloppy passerby to curl a shot past the stranded Berger.