The Cat, who had been one of our stars in the first game, was caught by an aggressive challenge from Mick Jones, which left him nursing a damaged left knee. With no substitute goalkeeper on the bench, the Blues’ FA Cup dream could have been over but for the bravery of a man who had previously suffered cup heartache in both the final and semi-finals of the competition.
The reason why so few keepers have lifted the FA Cup for Chelsea, despite the fact we’ve won it eight times, is because this man was between the sticks for half of them!
The challenge for a coveted top-four place is going well with the Blues currently third and six points ahead of fifth-place West Ham with three Premier League games left to play, and seven clear of Liverpool who have a game in hand. In addition, there are of course two massive cup finals to contest, one domestic and the other on the big European stage.
As he faces the climax to the season, Tuchel has acknowledged the contribution from Frank Lampard whom he took over from in January and who started the campaigns in each of those competitions.
‘You can only arrive in the final in FA Cup or the final of the Champions League if you make it through the group stage, and Frank had an amazing record in the group stage of the Champions League, and he won all the FA Cup games that were there to win,’ said Tuchel, ‘so this lays the foundation to arrive in the finals and I will never forget it.
However, there was good news on Christensen, after the defender limped off during our win over Manchester City at the weekend, with Tuchel relieved the Danish international’s injury wasn’t as serious as he first thought, admitting he was worried the defender’s season could be over.
‘It was much better than we feared. We hope that he can come back in one of the two Leicester games. It will also be a tough one, but the season’s not finished for him hopefully. We have realistic hopes that he can make his comeback, at the latest, against Aston Villa.
‘Andreas was crucial in the matches when he played. We missed him for a few games around the Porto game because of hamstring problems and now he has a tendon problem. He is crucial in the back three, he gives us a lot of options because he can play all three positions and he’s very calm, but don’t misjudge him for being calm, he is a very tough one to play against.
The Blues went into the final game of the season knowing a victory would seal the title and we got off to the perfect start at Kingsmeadow.
Jess Carter picked out Melanie Leupolz from a corner and the German international executed a first-time strike to perfection to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead with less than two minutes played.
As they’ve done so often this season, Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby combined once again to create another goal for Chelsea.
Kirby slipped the ball into Kerr and the Australian returned the pass into the path for Kirby to provide a first-time finish into the top corner and give the Blues a two-goal cushion.
The duo were involved once again as Chelsea made it three just before the hour mark as Kerr fed the ball to Kirby and the No.14 took one touch before directing a thunderous drive beyond Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney.
Kerr then got herself on the scoresheet which her performance certainly merited and of course it was Kirby with the assist. A delightful chip from Kirby to find Kerr, and the No.20 volleyed home her 21st goal of the league and seal the WSL Golden Boot.
Substitute Erin Cuthbert netted with 15 minutes to go as Moloney palmed Kerr’s header into the path of the scot and she bundled the ball over the line to make it five and complete the scoring on a title-winning day for Chelsea.