Chelsea made eight changes to the side that defeated Manchester United 6-1 over the weekend for their FA Cup Quarter Final tie with Birmingham City. Heavy hitters like Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, and Pernille Harder were left on the bench as Emma Hayes opted to rotate the squad ahead of Chelsea’s game with Brighton and Hove Albion this weekend. It was the substitutes that made the difference for Chelsea as they advanced to the semi-final.
Chelsea Substitutions Propel Them to FA Cup Victory Over Birmingham
Chelsea failed to make many opportunities in the first half of the game as Birmingham set out to park the bus and deny Chelsea any opportunity to get on a roll. Chelsea pressed on and were happy to pass the ball around looking for any space to open up in the defence. To Birmingham’s credit, they never gave Chelsea much space to exploit as they defended deep. The only thing Birmingham was missing was an attacking spark as every clearance or long ball fell to a Chelsea defender or just went out for a throw-in. After an uneventful first half, the two sides went into the break at 0-0.
Chelsea Substitutions Turn the Tide
Sam Kerr was the first Chelsea change as she came on at half-time. Kerr’s impact was felt almost immediately as Chelsea looked more likely to score with her on than they had in the entire first half. In the 60th minute, Kerr did what Kerr does and finally broke the deadlock with a well-placed header to put Chelsea ahead.
Five minutes later Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder were introduced to the game and further swung the game in Chelsea’s favor. Within 10 minutes Kirby added two goals to Chelsea’s tally which put the tie to bed.
Harder added insult to injury with a fourth Chelsea goal in stoppage time. It’s unsurprising that it was Kerr and Kirby who made the difference as they have formed one of the most dangerous attacking pairings that women’s football has ever seen. Birmingham fought hard and did a fantastic job to keep Chelsea at bay in the first half but the quality of Chelsea’s bench was just too much for them to overcome.
With this win Chelsea advance to the final four of the competition alongside Brighton, Arsenal, and Manchester City. Chelsea will meet the holders City in the semi-final in a massive clash between two of the WSL’s top teams.