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Player ratings as Sam Kerr hat-trick sees off Reds in FA Cup

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Chelsea survived a second-half Liverpool fightback as a Sam Kerr hat-trick saw the Blues into the FA Cup fifth round with a 3-2 victory at Kingsmeadow on Sunday.

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Chelsea had looked in cruise control after deservedly leading at the break through Kerr, and the Australian striker doubled the hosts’ advantage seven minutes after the restart. But a much-improved Liverpool halved the deficit through a stunning Ceri Holland effort, before Kerr completed her hat-trick to seemingly wrap up the victory.

Gemma Bonner scrambled home from a corner with five minutes left on the clock to set up an exciting finish, but the Blues withstood the late pressure to edge into the fifth round.

Chelsea were much the dominant side in the opening 45, as Liverpool struggled to progress out of their own half. Lauren James tested Rachael Laws in the early exchanges, cutting inside and firing straight at the Liverpool goalkeeper.

Jessie Fleming flicked an Erin Cuthbert ball wide and Niamh Charles narrowly headed the wrong side of the post from a corner as the Blues pushed for the opener.

The breakthrough deservedly came just after the half hour mark, Charles digging out a cross from the byline and Kerr sending a sweetly-struck volley past Laws.

Having been comfortably second best in the first half, Liverpool began the second half in the ascendancy, enjoying a rare spell of possession in the Chelsea half. However, any momentum was soon stunted as Chelsea doubled their advantage seven minutes after the restart.

Holland was caught in possession by Fleming deep in the Chelsea half, Fran Kirby picked up the loose ball and fed James. The Blues forward smartly allowed the ball to run through to Kerr, who finishing coolly.

The goal could have easily killed Liverpool off, but the Reds came again and halved the deficit shortly after the hour mark. Missy Bo Kearns spun Kirby and looked to the edge of the box for Holland, who superbly arrowed the ball past a sea of bodies and into the bottom corner.

Liverpool pushed for an equaliser, and were unfortunate to not be awarded a spot kick when the ball appeared to strike the outstretched arm of Sophie Ingle after Chelsea failed to clear, but their protests were waved away.

Laws kept the Reds in the game after Kerr latched onto a weak back pass and attempted to round the Liverpool keeper, but she managed to tip the Chelsea striker’s effort wide.

Kerr wasn’t to be denied a hat-trick, and minutes later she restored her side’s two-goal advantage, leaping unmarked to head Charles’ back post delivery into the net.

But again the Reds fought back, substitute Bonner bundling home from a corner with four minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish.

Zecira Musovic tipped a stinging Mel Lawley effort over the bar in stoppage time as the Blues hung on to book their place in the fifth round draw.

Sam Kerr

Same Kerr gave Chelsea the lead with a volley / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

GK: Zecira Musovic – 6/10 – Couldn’t do a great deal about either Liverpool goal. Tipped a stoppage time Lawley effort over the bar.

RB: Niamh Charles – 8/10 – Headed just wide from a corner in the first half, and teed up Kerr for Chelsea’s opener with a burst to the byline and dinked cross. Went for the same ball as Bright in the build-up to Liverpool’s first, leaving Lawley unmarked. Atoned for the error with another assist, picking out Kerr at the back post.

CB: Millie Bright – 6/10 – Kept Stengel well marshalled with her physicality, but a mix-up between her and Charles led to Liverpool’s goal.

CB: Kadeisha Buchanan – 7/10 – Blazed over from a corner early in the first half. Kick-started the move from which Chelsea opened the scoring with a probing pass into midfield. Rarely troubled defensively, replaced at the break.

LB: Jess Carter – 6/10 – Made an important intervention to prevent a potentially dangerous Liverpool counter-attack in the first half. Rarely tested defensively, tidy in possession.

CM: Erin Cuthbert – 7/10 – Found Fleming with a pinpoint first half cross, from which Chelsea almost opened the scoring. Typically energetic and tenacious.

CM: Jessie Fleming – 8/10 – Flicked an effort narrowly wide in the first half, and was rewarded for her relentless harrying as she dispossessed Holland in the build-up to Chelsea’s second. Full of energy, broke up play really well.

CM: Fran Kirby – 7/10 – Picked out Kerr for Chelsea’s second and linked play smartly throughout. Beaten by Kearns in the build-up to Liverpool’s first goal.

RW: Lauren James – 7/10 – Cleverly fed Charles in the build-up to Chelsea’s opener, and smartly allowed the ball to run through to Kerr for her side’s second.

ST: Sam Kerr – 9/10 – Opened the scoring with a sweetly struck volley, and doubled her tally with a typically cool finish. Denied a hat-trick by a good Laws save, but netted a third minutes later with a back-post header. A ruthlessly clinical performance.

LW: Guro Reiten – 6/10 – Caused problems with her energetic press, particularly in the first half, making it difficult for Liverpool to get out of their own half.

Substitutes

SUB: Magdalena Eriksson (46′ for Buchanan) – 6/10

SUB: Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (68′ for Reiten) – 6/10

SUB: Sophie Ingle (68′ for James) – 6/10

SUB: Maren Mjelde (77′ for Kirby) – 6/10

SUB: Melanie Leupolz (83′ for Cuthbert) – 6/10

Emma Koivisto, Guro Reiten

Emma Koivisto started at right back for Liverpool / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

GK: Rachael Laws – 6/10 – A bit hit-and-miss with her distribution, but kept Liverpool in the game with a superb second-half save, tipping a Kerr effort wide as the Chelsea striker attempted to take the ball around her.

RB: Emma Koivisto – 6/10 – Had a good battle up against the usually destructive Reiten. Replaced in the latter stages.

CB: Niamh Fahey – 5/10 – Played her side into trouble on a couple of occasions when attempting to play out from the back. Made an important last ditch tackle to keep out James in the second half.

CB: Jasmine Matthews – 5/10 – Had a tough time keeping track of the lively Kerr.

LB: Megan Campbell – 5/10 – Never an easy task up against Lauren James. Largely spent the game in her own half and rarely able to utilise her long throws.

CM: Fuka Nagano – 7/10 – Provided the looping cross that caused problems in the Chelsea box in the build-up to Liverpool’s first goal. Helped drive the Reds forward in the second half.

CM: Ceri Holland – 7/10 – Dispossessed deep in her own half in the build-up to Chelsea’s second, but atoned for her error with a fabulous strike from the edge of the box to give Liverpool hope of a fight back, arrowing the ball into the bottom corner first time. Won the header in the build up to Liverpool’s second.

CM: Miss Bo Kearns – 6/10 – Instrumental in Liverpool’s first goal, spinning Kirby in the Chelsea box and smartly teeing up Holland.

RW: Yana Daniels – 5/10 – Rarely on the ball high up at the pitch and never had an opportunity to test Carter defensively. Replaced just before the hour.

ST: Katie Stengel – 5/10 – Struggled up against the physicality of Bright and unable to exert her usual influence on proceedings.

LW: Mel Lawley – 7/10 – Rarely on the ball in the final third of the pitch in the first half. Drifted to the back post to collect the loose ball and find Kearns in the build-up to Liverpool’s goal. A much improved second half, instrumental in pushing the Reds forward. Saw a stinging effort tipped over in stoppage time.

Substitutes

SUB: Gemma Bonner (58′ for Daniels) – 7/10 – Netted Liverpool’s second, bundling home from a corner.

SUB: Taylor Hinds (58′ for Campbell) – 7/10 – Made a real impact from the bench, livening up the left flank.

SUB: Sophie Lundgaard (69′ for Kearns) – 6/10

SUB: Leighanne Robe (76′ for Koivisto) – 6/10

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