Chelsea moved within a point of Women’s Super League leaders Manchester United with a 6-0 thrashing of Leicester before boss Emma Hayes turned up the pressure by reveling in the fun of the chase.
Pernille Harder scored twice for the defending champions to help them warm up for Sunday’s FA Cup final against title rivals Man United at Wembley with another thumping victory.
After beating Everton 7-0 last weekend, Chelsea picked up where they left off at Kingsmeadow with Guro Reiten, Erin Cuthbert, Lauren James and Jelena Cankovic in goal along with Harder’s second straight brace.
It kept the five-time WSL winners in the driving seat for another championship as they have a game to go against United, who have 50 points from 20 games.
Both teams now have a goal difference of 42, but Chelsea have scored more overall in the division, which could prove decisive if they finish level on points later this month.
“I like this position, I like to put pressure on others. I don’t mind being there (up), but this is fun for me,” Hayes said.
“We’ve always been chasing this whole year, we’ve always been a game or two behind. It’s good to finally close the gap and now it’s about putting Man United under pressure because we’re not in the driving seat, we’re still second.
“We had to find ways to win without being flashy, but I think our confidence is really high right now. We’re in the best place we’ve probably been all season.
“I know what I want to do for Sunday. I know exactly how we want to play, I’m happy with the whole team, the team is playing well.”
Reiten’s eighth-minute finisher put Chelsea on the road before Cuthbert scored his 50th goal for the club with 18 minutes played.
Harder stole the show with a brace in the first half and James stretched the lead early in the second period with a stunning solo goal.
Cankovic completed the scoring in added time with another spectacular goal to help the second-placed Blues to four straight league victories.
Relegation-threatened Leicester (beaten 8-0 at home by the Blues in December) remain two points clear of bottom club Reading with two games to go after their 15th defeat in a campaign complicated.
Arsenal boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League by climbing to third place after Stina Blackstenius’ opening brace helped them to a 4-0 win over Brighton.
Swedish striker Blackstenius scored after 6 and 8 minutes to lead the visitors to a comfortable victory.
Frida Maanum and Victoria Pelova also scored first-half goals for the Gunners, who edged past Manchester City on goal difference with one game less.