WSL: Emma Hayes gets winning return as Chelsea ease past Tottenham

Three first half goals helped Chelsea cruise to an easy win against Tottenham on Sunday.
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Chelsea ensured a winning return to the touchline for manager Emma Hayes as they eased past Tottenham Hotspur with a 3-0 victory in the Women's Super League at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Hayes was back in the dugout after undergoing an emergency hysterectomy last month, and her side were rarely troubled as goals from Sam Kerr, Erin Cuthbert and Guro Reiten took Chelsea top of the WSL table.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

It was Chelsea's ninth win in a row in all competitions as the defending WSL champions asserted their title credentials to go three points clear of Arsenal and Manchester United -- albeit having played a game more than both teams.

"I felt like I hadn't been away," Hayes said. "Someone asked me earlier how many games of football I've coached in my career and I couldn't tell you, but it would be over 1,000 I suspect. This is the longest team I've ever been with and it just felt like I was going back out to my family."

The match took place in front of a record home crowd of 38,350 supporters for a Chelsea women's game. Hayes said that women's teams were outgrowing their home grounds, while Tottenham boss Rehanne Skinner said those attendances should be "normalised" across the league.

"I'd like to be here more," Hayes added. "I'm absolutely certain we're all outgrowing our small stadiums, that I'm sure of. I know the players want to play here more but I also think it's important [to remember] that there is a business cost to playing."

The win had extra significance for Chelsea, as the club celebrated 10 years with Hayes in charge and 30 years since the formation of the women's team before kick-off. They wasted little time in showing why they have become so dominant during Hayes' tenure.

It took Kerr just 12 minutes to pounce on a moment of hesitation and open the scoring. Millie Bright's long ball forward sent the Australia forward away, and she slotted home with Tottenham keeper Tinja Riika-Korpela rushing out -- bypassing three defenders as they tried to clear their lines.

The home side's second goal was a brilliant individual effort. A corner bounced up invitingly for Cuthbert and the midfielder swung a boot at it, sending a looping shot past the outstretched hand of Riika-Korpela.

It was the perfect way for Cuthbert to celebrate a new contract after extending her Chelsea deal until 2025 earlier in the week.

Tottenham were sinking without a trace. Chelsea made Skinner's side pay once again in the 35th minute when the lively Lauren James burst into the box and drew a foul from Ashleigh Neville. Reiten sent Riika-Korpela the wrong way from the resulting penalty to put Hayes' side in full control before the break.

Chelsea picked up where they left off after the restart. They had a penalty appeal waved away in the 54th minute when Tottenham's Amy Turner got a handful of Reiten's shirt inside the area, while Bright sent a thundering shot against the crossbar from a corner two minutes later. James curled a shot wide of Riika-Korpela's right-hand post as she looked for the goal her contribution deserved.

Tottenham spurned their best chance in the dying stages. Substitute Chioma Ubogagu fizzed in a cross from the left-hand side for Drew Spence, but the former Chelsea forward could not turn home from close range.

"We've played some good stuff overall, that's kind of happening on a more consistent basis, but we've just got to be more clinical to be able to take those chances when they arise," Skinner said.

Elsewhere in the WSL, Arsenal looked to have done enough when they came back from a goal down to lead 2-1 against Manchester United on Saturday, but an 85th-minute goal by substitute Martha Turner put the visitors level and they snatched all three points when Alessia Russo scored in stoppage time.

Arsenal ended the weekend in second place on 18 points, ahead of United on goal difference, and both teams have a game in hand over Chelsea.

Manchester City, who beat Everton 2-1 on Saturday, are fourth on 15 points, three ahead of Aston Villa, who coasted to a 3-1 win over Reading on Sunday thanks to a Rachel Daly hat-trick.

There was late drama at the bottom of the table as Rachel Furness struck two minutes into stoppage time to give 10th-placed Liverpool a 3-3 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion, while bottom side Leicester City conceded in the 88th minute in a 1-0 defeat by West Ham United.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.