Sam Kerr’s first-half hat-trick helped Chelsea strengthen their grip on top spot in the Women’s Super League with a thumping victory over Birmingham City.

After an even opening 25 minutes, the Australia striker put the hosts in front when she slammed home from a tight angle after goalkeeper Hannah Hampton parried Erin Cuthbert’s low strike.

From that point on Chelsea were in complete control, Kerr scoring twice more in the final throes of the first period to complete her treble.

She nodded into an empty net after Pernille Harder’s effort struck the bar, before adding a third moments later by meeting Cuthbert’s free-kick at the far post to head in.

Emma Hayes’ side became increasingly dominant as the contest wore on, with Fran Kirby twice side-footing home from inside the box after the break, while Guro Reiten converted Kirby’s pull-back to score her first league goal of the season.

Chelsea’s gap to second-placed Manchester City is now five points, though that could soon narrow when Gareth Taylor’s side play Tottenham Hotspur later on Sunday.

After this round of fixtures there will be just three games left, with Chelsea visiting Manchester City in their next WSL match on 25 April for a possible title decider.

Such was Chelsea’s superiority against Birmingham, Hayes was afforded the luxury of making all five substitutions before the hour mark in a bid to keep some of her key players fresh.

One of those brought off early was Kerr, whose recent ruthless run in front of goal continues to be a vital part of Chelsea’s success – her hat-trick here lifted her above Vivianne Miedema to the top of the league’s scoring charts.

The Blues remain in the hunt for a historic quadruple, with crucial fixtures in the Champions League and FA Cup in the coming weeks, and a sixth consecutive league victory suggests they are hitting form at the perfect time.

Birmingham, meanwhile, face the prospect of being dragged into a relegation battle after going 10 games without a win in the WSL for the first time.

Line-ups

Chelsea Women

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 30Berger
  • 21Charles
  • 4Bright
  • 16Eriksson
  • 25AnderssonSubstituted forBlundellat 45′minutes
  • 24SpenceBooked at 80mins
  • 8LeupolzSubstituted forFlemingat 57′minutes
  • 14Kirby
  • 23HarderSubstituted forEnglandat 45′minutes
  • 22CuthbertSubstituted forReitenat 45′minutes
  • 20KerrSubstituted forCarterat 62′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Musovic
  • 3Blundell
  • 5Ingle
  • 7Carter
  • 9England
  • 11Reiten
  • 17Fleming
  • 28Telford

B’ham City Women

Formation 5-4-1

  • 1Hampton
  • 2Mayling
  • 16Brougham
  • 30Lawley
  • 4Mace
  • 3ScottSubstituted forHollowayat 80′minutes
  • 10Murray
  • 8GreenSubstituted forWhippat 62′minutes
  • 14Kelly
  • 12LittlejohnBooked at 45minsSubstituted forNapierat 62′minutes
  • 18WalkerSubstituted forMurphyat 74′minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Sarri
  • 17Logan
  • 19Whipp
  • 20Napier
  • 24Whitehouse
  • 25Holloway
  • 35Murphy

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