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Leicester 0-4 Chelsea: Macario makes instant impact after injury nightmare
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PA Sport staff
Press Association
Niamh Charles congratulates Chelsea team-mate Catarina Macario
Niamh Charles congratulates Chelsea team-mate Catarina Macario

Catarina Macario ended 20 months of injury hell by netting five minutes into her long-awaited Chelsea debut to cap a 4-0 victory over Leicester for the Women’s Super League leaders.

Emma Hayes’ side, who went back ahead of Manchester City on goal difference, were already 3-0 up in the 73rd minute when Macario took to the pitch for the first time since tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in June 2022, beaming all the way.

It was smiles all round soon after as she latched on to Aggie Beever-Jones’ pass in the box and finished sharply to finally make her mark as a Blues player.

Her goal was the cherry on the cake after strikes from Nathalie Bjorn, a first in the WSL from the dominant Mayra Ramirez and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd.

Chelsea came out at lightning pace, going close within 10 seconds of kick-off when Guro Reiten broke away and forced a save at the far post and again when Jelena Cankovic’s header needed a brave block from Josie Green.

A brief injury break allowed the hosts to regroup, with Jutta Rantala to the fore as she twice cut in from the right wing to work Hannah Hampton.

The second effort was beaten back out into the danger area and should have been finished by Yuka Momiki, who slotted wide when well set.

The deadlock was broken from a Chelsea corner in the 38th minute, Leicester failing to clear as the ball bounced inside their area.

Bjorn’s reactions were sharper, stretching to hook over the melee and somehow deceive Green, who ducked under an attempted clearance on the line.

Emboldened by the lead, Ramirez began to put the frighteners on her opponents.

She could easily have earned a penalty when she stood firm under some blatant shirt pulling from Green but put her frustration to good use on the stroke of half-time.

Robbing Julie Thibaud just inside her own half, she strode through Leicester territory before rounding Lize Kop and slotting home.

Ramirez’s physicality continued to give Chelsea a focal point after the break, at one stage powering through the box before blasting wide.

The extra attention she demanded on the left also allowed Kaneryd extra room on the opposite flank and the Sweden international collected a pinpoint pass from midfield before sending a deflected effort in off the boot of Janice Cayman.

A fine diving save from Kop prevented Sjoeke Nusken making it four but they had more cause for celebration when summer signing Macario stepped off the bench to finally end her exile.

She could hardly have imagined a better comeback, finding herself in the right place almost immediately and showing her instincts had not been dulled by the enforced absence with a smart touch and finish.


Women's Super LeagueChelsea FC WomenLeicester City WFC
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