Sam Kerr’s double took Chelsea back to the top of the Women’s Super League in a patient victory over lowly Aston Villa at Kingsmeadow.
Kerr and Fran Kirby, the scourge of so many defences all season, combined for the opening goal, the Aussie directing a fine looping header in off the post.
And Kirby’s pace helped create havoc for the second after the break, with Kerr curling in a delightful strike.
Villa, who remain a point above bottom-side West Ham, barely threatened.
Chelsea go top by two points from Manchester City, who edged past Reading on Saturday thanks to Chloe Kelly’s 87th-minute strike.
The Blues, who are still to meet City in one of their remaining four games, were not at their best but did not need to be against a Villa side whose only attempt on goal was a tame long-range effort from Chloe Arthur.
Chelsea, on the back of their midweek Champions League first-leg win over Wolfsburg and with the second leg in mind, made six changes but, tellingly, the lethal combination of Kerry and Kirby remained intact.
Ji So-Yun shone in midfield, dictating play throughout, but it was Kerr and Kirby who did the damage with the double act linking up for the ninth and 10th goals of the season.
Kerr could have had a hat-trick when through on goal only to send a tired shot just wide before being replaced soon after the hour.
Chelsea were disjointed in the closing stages as boss Emma Hayes looked to rotate her squad with the game as good as won, but the hosts did not need the security of a third goal.
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes on Kerr-Kirby partnership: “Everybody knows the pressure that both of those players were under from the start of the year.
“The fact that they are going into every game looking like they’re going to score, I think that’s testament to their ability to handle that pressure.
“Both of them are in the form of their lives and that combination is dynamite, it’s telepathic. It’s rare in football to find those things. I know that they are going to get chances in every game and it’s about capitalising on those chances.”
Aston Villa manager Marcus Bignot: “We have come away with our confidence intact and our belief growing.
“Performances like today will help us build that belief going forward.”
- 7CarterSubstituted forCharlesat 59′minutes
- 22CuthbertSubstituted forSpenceat 59′minutes
- 14KirbySubstituted forHarderat 59′minutes
- 20KerrSubstituted forLeupolzat 63′minutes
- 11ReitenSubstituted forBeever-Jonesat 73′minutes
Aston Villa Women
- 16McLoughlinBooked at 75minsSubstituted forSymeat 79′minutes
- 7FollisSubstituted forHaylesat 65′minutes
- 8ArthurSubstituted forAbreu Sousa Silvaat 79′minutes
- 21EwersSubstituted forN’Dowat 29′minutes
- 20IwabuchiSubstituted forGregoryat 78′minutes
- 19Abreu Sousa Silva
Match ends, Chelsea Women 2, Aston Villa Women 0.
Second Half ends, Chelsea Women 2, Aston Villa Women 0.
Attempt missed. Jessie Fleming (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Pernille Harder.
Offside, Chelsea Women. Jessie Fleming tries a through ball, but Aggie Beever-Jones is caught offside.
Corner, Aston Villa Women. Conceded by Niamh Charles.
Offside, Chelsea Women. Pernille Harder tries a through ball, but Ji So-Yun is caught offside.
Foul by Pernille Harder (Chelsea Women).
Diana Silva (Aston Villa Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Aston Villa Women. Nadine Hanssen tries a through ball, but Freya Gregory is caught offside.
Substitution, Aston Villa Women. Emily Syme replaces Olivia McLoughlin.
Substitution, Aston Villa Women. Diana Silva replaces Chloe Arthur.
Substitution, Aston Villa Women. Freya Gregory replaces Mana Iwabuchi.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Conceded by Elisha N’Dow.
Olivia McLoughlin (Aston Villa Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Melanie Leupolz (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Olivia McLoughlin (Aston Villa Women).
Substitution, Chelsea Women. Aggie Beever-Jones replaces Guro Reiten.
Ji So-Yun (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Elisha N’Dow (Aston Villa Women).
Foul by Melanie Leupolz (Chelsea Women).