Pernille Harder’s superb solo goal in Chelsea’s 6-1 thrashing of Manchester United reminded manager Emma Hayes of one very special England centurion.
Arsenal legend Kelly Smith, capped 117 times by her country, was fronting BBC coverage of the game alongside Reshmin Chowdhury and Fara Williams.
And when Harder scored a stunning second, Hayes caught a glimpse of Smith and thought she was seeing double such was the similarity of the players and their strikes.
“I saw Kelly Smith over on the far side and the goal reminded me of one Kelly would have scored, I’ve seen her score those goals,” said the Blues boss.
“Pernille has come to pre-season this year with an amazing attitude, an amazing approach and professionalism to her game.
“She’s finding brilliant spaces, she puts in an unbelievable shift for the team in and out of possession and that goal is just reward.
“For me, this is the message: top players like she is put in so much work and I’m so happy for her today.”
Chelsea laid waste to United’s unbeaten start to the season in the Women’s Super League and banished memories of a chastening 3-2 loss to Arsenal on opening day.
Their attacking battery proved lethal at Leigh Sports Village and Fran Kirby netted her 50th Super League goal to set the tone.
Harder’s second was emphatic as she surged into space and dinked over goalkeeper Mary Earps.
Sam Kerr bagged a brace either side of half-time, combining with strike partner Kirby once again to devastating effect, with Drew Spence and Jessie Fleming adding late goals.
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Hayes gushed: “We looked so dangerous going forward.
“I thought the scoreline could have been bigger at half-time, but the team has the ability to get better and that’s what I thought we did.
“In the second half, we sat, we absorbed pressure, we were happy to do that. We knew where they wanted the spaces and we limited them to put them in the positions we wanted to put them in.”
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