Chelsea cantered into the Women’s Champions League quarter-finals with early Fran Kirby and Sophie Ingle goals helping them to a comfortable 4-0 win at Vllaznia.
Ingle fired in the opener in the 12th minute when she powered a loose ball home from the edge of the area for her second goal of the season – with both coming in the Champions League.
Kirby’s strike eight minutes later would prove far more controversial, with the forward latching onto a quickly taken free-kick and firing past Kaylin Williams-Mosier, leaving the red-faced home defence to remonstrate with referee Karoline Wacker.
The hosts failed to mount any sort of response, with late goals from Katerina Svitkova and Maren Mjelde instead piling on further misery and ending their already threadbare hopes of qualifying for the next round.
Chelsea’s victory means that they will almost certainly progress to the quarter-finals as group winners – setting them up for a knockout tie against one of the four group runners-up.
How Chelsea secured their quarter-final spot
It took the visitors 12 minutes to convert a comfortable start into the opening goal, with captain for the night Ingle on target.
A fluid break down the left and a deflected cut-back from Guro Reiten saw the ball roll out to the penalty spot, where Ingle arrived to lash first time into the bottom corner.
Chelsea had found the net for the 29th game in a row, but they were never likely to be content with one. A free-kick just outside the area allowed them to grab a second, with Jelena Cankovic in opportunistic mood.
As the home defence gathered in expectation of a direct effort on goal, she rolled a quick pass to Kirby. The England international had peeled into space on the right and was unchallenged as she hit a low shot past Williams-Mosier.
A couple of headed chances passed Chelsea by as they continued putting the Vllaznia defence under pressure, but by now the three points already seemed safe.
The second half at times seemed like a personal battle for Sam Kerr to get her name on the scoresheet, with the Australian going close on a handful of occasions.
She should have done better with a far-post header, saw one goalbound effort well blocked by Lucie Gjini and then had a close-range finish ruled out for offside.
While her endeavours came to nothing, there were two more goals late in the game.
The impressive Cankovic whipped in a brilliant cross for substitute Svitkova, who flicked home the header, before a handball in stoppage time allowed them to finish with a flourish.
Mjelde stepped up to convert the penalty, sending the London club through the next stage at a canter.