Deadly header Kerr puts Chelsea back in control of WSL

Sam Kerr admits she has not been at her sharpest after recent battles with injury - but her heading prowess has remained quite undimmed as she showed once again by swooping to put Chelsea back in control in the Women's Super League race.

The Matildas captain, also wearing the skipper's armband for her club on Sunday (Monday AEDT), hung in the air and nodded home with an exquisite downward header just before the hour to seal the champions' 3-0 win at Bristol City.

After spurning a couple of first-half chances, Kerr, expertly converting Guro Reiten's cross from the left flank when criminally unmarked, never looked like missing out on her fourth WSL goal of the season as she demonstrated why there's no better aerial predator in the women's game.

Having ensured Chelsea would head three points clear at the top of the table, ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal, as they seek a fifth straight title, Kerr was given a rest five minutes later, brought off by coach Emma Hayes to save her for the Blues' midweek Champions League fixture at Hacken in Sweden.

Sam Kerr
Chelsea's Kerr remains the deadliest header in women's soccer.

Star of the Chelsea show, though, was England international Lauren James, who fired home a dazzling first-half goal with a thunderbolt left-foot shot and then hit the bar with another effort after the break.

It was a perfect riposte to the haters from England's best woman player after Hayes had revealed in the week how social media racial abuse had left James "not in a very good place”.

After being suspended for two matches at the Women’s World Cup for stamping on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie, James was targeted again online after a similar incident during Chelsea’s 4-1 defeat at Arsenal last week, but she was back to her best on Sunday.

Erin Cuthbert also scored a fine first-half goal as Chelsea took advantage of Arsenal's loss at Spurs on Saturday to ensure they'll go into the New Year on top again.

The only bad news for the champions was having defender Niamh Charles sent off for a second yellow card foul in stoppage time.

Man City kept up their pursuit by winning 4-1 at Everton thanks to a hat-trick for Khadija Shaw, who now leads the way in the WSL goalscoring charts with nine this season. 

Mary Fowler, though, was benched again by City and only came on late in the second half with the points already wrapped up.

One Matilda who had a big afternoon was Liverpool keeper Teagan Micah, who made a key save in the dying minutes of their surprise 2-1 win at deadly rivals Manchester United.

Teagan had been beaten by an Ella Toone strike after just three minutes but Liverpool responded to win with an own goal from Millie Turner and a second-half volley from defender Taylor Hinds.

Chelsea now have 25 points, three ahead of Man City and Arsenal, and seven clear of Man Utd, who lead Liverpool on goal difference.

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