In the opening minute of Wednesday’s fixture, Chelsea won a corner after a shot ricocheted off of Megan Finnigan’s arm. But all was not lost, as goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela dove the right way and parried the shot away for a corner.
The Toffees managed to keep the affair competitive for just over ten minutes, mainly through a pair of set pieces, which failed to trouble Chelsea goalie Ann-Katrin Berger in net. But after the home side’s chances went unanswered, it was the visitors who started taking over.
In the 13’, Sam Kerr picked the ball up in the center of the pitch and sent a cutting pass through Everton’s backline to Fran Kirby, who outpaced three defenders and deftly placed a shot through the legs of Korpela. In an effortless display of teamwork, Chelsea took the lead and never looked back.
Less than ten minutes after the opening tally, Chelsea again appeared to be through on goal, this time with Danish forward Pernille Harder. The 28-year-old was stonewalled by Korpela, as the Finnish netminder blocked a point-blank save to keep the score at 1–0. With Korpela’s heroics in net, coupled with some luck — the London outfit had a goal washed out due to an offside position — the game remained relatively even.
On the stroke of halftime, each club had one attempt on goal: Erin Cuthbert found an open pocket of space at the top of Everton’s 18 and fired a shot that slammed off the crossbar and out of play. Two minutes later, Hayley Raso was given room on the right wing to charge forward, a move that ended with an Izzy Christiansen shot, which sailed well wide of the net.
One of the Toffees’ three shots on frame came in the opening minutes of the second half; Claire Emslie ripped a low shot that forced a smart save from Berger. In the 51’, Korpela denied Kirby the brace, stopping the electric forward from inside the box.
Following Korpela’s umpteenth save of the game, right back Niamh Charles sent a curling pass up the wing to Kerr, who had gotten in behind the defense. The Australian striker drove the end line and sent a pass that found the feet of Kirby, and the English international tapped the ball to Harder, who netted her eighth marker of the season.
The Merseyside club’s final chance came in the 76’ — second-half-substitute Ingrid Moe Wold sprinted down the right wing and crossed a ball to Valérie Gauvin, but the French forward couldn’t generate any power on the shot but won a corner.
With time winding down and Chelsea looking to put the game out of reach, Melanie Leupolz secured the three points for the visitors. After recovering a post-corner-kick clearance, Charles sent a looping cross over the Toffees’ defense and to the head of Harder. And while the Dane’s shot was kept out of goal by Korpela, Leupolz tapped in the rebound after Finnigan and Rikke Sevecke were caught ball watching.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
With it seeming almost an inevitability that Everton would concede their fastest goal of the season, goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela, who is filling in for the injured Sandy MacIver, stepped up to face penalty-taker Melanie Leupolz. Korpela firmly planted her feet on the end line and, on the ensuing shot, dove the right way to prevent Chelsea from scoring — if only for another 12 minutes.
Everton (4-2-3-1): Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Hayley Raso, Megan Finnigan, Rikke Sevecke, Gabrielle George, Nicoline Sørensen, Izzy Christiansen, Claire Emslie, Jill Scott, Lucy Graham; Simone Magill
Substitutes: Valérie Gauvin for Magill 59, Alisha Lehmann for Raso 71, Ingrid Moe Wold for Sørensen 71
Unused Substitutes: Faye Kirby, Abbey-Leigh Stringer, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Maéva Clemaron, Grace Clinton, Poppy Pattinson
Booking: Raso 49
Chelsea (4-3-3): Ann-Katrin Berger; Niamh Charles, Magdalena Eriksson, Millie Bright, Jonna Andersson; Fran Kirby, Melanie Leupolz, Ji So-Yun; Erin Cuthbert, Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder
Substitutes: Guro Reiten for Kerr 72, Jessie Fleming for Kirby 83, Jess Carter for Andersson 83
Unused Substitutes: Carly Telford, Zecira Musovic, Hannah Blundell, Drew Spence, Jorja Fox, Charlotte Wardlaw
Goals: Kirby 13, Harder 60, Leupolz 79
Booking: Leupolz 73