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Brighton 0-3 Chelsea: James hits stunning double in routine victory
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Ed Elliot
Press Association
Lauren James was the star of the show for Chelsea at Brighton
Lauren James was the star of the show for Chelsea at Brighton

Lauren James scored twice as Women’s Super League leaders Chelsea moved six points clear with a convincing 3-0 win away to Brighton.

Fran Kirby was also on target for Emma Hayes’ reigning champions at Broadfield Stadium in Crawley.

James’ second-half double – on the back of last weekend’s hat-trick against Manchester United – takes her WSL tally to 12 for the season to put her level with Manchester City’s Khadija Shaw as the division’s leading scorer.

The in-form England international was denied the chance to claim a second successive treble as she was replaced 23 minutes from time in order to give a debut to club-record signing Mayra Ramirez.

Chelsea’s lead at the top could be reduced back to three points when title rivals City and Arsenal play on Sunday.

Blues boss Hayes described her side’s 2-1 midweek Champions League victory over Real Madrid as "flat" and "boring".

James was recalled in one of three changes from that game, while Colombia forward Ramirez was included on the bench a day after she joined from Levante in a deal reportedly worth a British record fee of £384,000.

The visitors dominated possession in a tight opening period, but were unable to capitalise on a handful of chances.

Seagulls goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley, making her 100th WSL appearance, had to be alert to push Guro Reiten’s 13th-minute effort on to the frame of the goal.

Norway international Reiten later squandered a golden opportunity, scuffing wide from only six yards out following Kirby’s cutback from the left.

Brighton, who claimed a precious 3-2 win over relegation rivals Bristol City last weekend, escaped again six minutes before the break.

Reiten turned provider on this occasion, exchanging passes with Niamh Charles and delivering an inviting left-wing cross, only for Kirby to volley over from inside the six-yard box.

Chelsea took complete control of the contest with three goals in 14 minutes at the start of the second half.

James opened the scoring immediately after the restart with a fine half-volley into the top left corner from level with the penalty spot following captain Charles’ cross from the left.

Kirby nodded in from close range just five minutes later after Blues midfielder Melanie Leupolz headed back towards goal when Albion defender Poppy Pattinson only partially cleared an inswinging corner from the right.

Albion had won just one of the previous 10 league meetings between the clubs.

The Seagulls almost halved the deficit in fortuitous fashion when Pauline Bremer’s attempted cross from the right struck the far post.

But James quickly put the result beyond doubt, lashing beyond Baggaley in the 59th minute after Pattinson inadvertently nodded down Reiten’s cross.

Chelsea comfortably saw out the final half an hour during which Baggaley kept out a powerful drive from debutant Ramirez and pulled off a fine save to deny the lively Reiten.


Brighton & Hove Albion WomenChelsea FC WomenWomen's Super League
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