Sam Kerr was at her magical best to score a fine hat-trick as Chelsea saw off Paris FC 4-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Women’s Champions League.
Blues boss Emma Hayes praised the Australian’s performance despite her being “80 per cent fit” as she continues to return to full fitness after missing most of the World Cup with injury.
“I fancied her to score a hat-trick tonight,” said Hayes in her post-match press conference. “I said it in the dressing room before the game. She doesn’t get credit for all the other little bits she does.
“By her standards she’s not on top, top [fitness] yet, but I don’t know anyone who puts the ball away like she does. She’s so alert and decisive with her movement. Brilliant centre-forward play.
“If that’s her at 80 per cent, I’ll take that. That’s not bad. I can’t wait for the 100 per cent to come.”
Chelsea were not always as impressive as the scoreline suggested but Sam Kerr was in unstoppable form, and notched the 30th-minute opener from a perfectly timed run to meet Lauren James’ inviting cross.
The Blues’ lead lasted only eight minutes and Paris FC’s equaliser owed a lot to the hosts’ own poor defending. A corner was met by Thea Greboval 12 yards out, with Ann-Katrin Berger caught out from her looping header and Jess Carter unable to keep it out on the line.
Hayes sent her side back out early after half-time and whatever she said at the interval had the desired effect. Johanna Kaneryd burst into the box with a driving run before squaring for an off-balance Kerr, who wasn’t going to let that stop her notching her second of the night (48).
Two soon became three for the sparking Australian, with her hat-trick strike the pick of the bunch. A superb 20-yard lob left the out-of-position Chiamaka Nnadozie feeling just as foolish as her opposite number when the back-peddling goalkeeper could only palm her effort into her own net (55).
Paris huffed in their search of a comeback but never looked likely to dent Chelsea’s two-goal lead, which then became three in added time when substitute Sophie Ingle finished off a corner to seal a comprehensive win.
Chelsea inevitably still had a sense of injustice on their minds from last week’s Champions League draw in Real Madrid, but showed no sign of seeking retribution in an opening dominated by the visitors.
The momentum the French side were building was punctured in an instant by Kerr, though, when the sharpshooter ghosted in behind Greboval and provided the perfect finish to James’ superb curling delivery from deep on the left.
Chelsea return to Women’s Super League action on Sunday as they host Leicester City at the Kingsmeadow Stadium. Their next Champions League group game is on Thursday December 14 at home to BK Hacken.