Chelsea thrash Leicester to move a point behind WSL leaders Manchester United

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Pernille Harder scored twice as Chelsea warmed up for the FA Cup final by moving a point behind Women’s Super League leaders Manchester United thanks to a 6-0 thrashing of lowly Leicester.

Emma Hayes’ reigning champions, who face United at Wembley on Sunday, took control of the contest courtesy of Guro Reiten’s eighth-minute finish and Erin Cuthbert’s 50th goal for the club.

Harder’s second double in as many games – following a brace in Sunday’s 7-0 thrashing over Everton – put the result beyond doubt before the break.

Lauren James stretched the Blues’ advantage with a stunning solo goal in the 56th minute before Jelena Cankovic completed the scoring in added time with another spectacular strike.

Second-placed Chelsea, who have won four league matches in a row, have a game in hand on title rivals United and an identical goal difference.

Relegation-threatened Leicester – thumped 8-0 at home by the Blues in December – remain two points above bottom club Reading with two games to go following their 15th defeat of a difficult campaign.

Arsenal boosted their hopes of Champions League qualification by climbing to third after Stina Blackstenius’ early brace helped them record a 4-0 success over Brighton.

Sweden forward Blackstenius struck in the sixth and eighth minutes to set the visitors on course for a comfortable victory.

Frida Maanum and Victoria Pelova also claimed first-half goals for the Gunners, who climbed above Manchester City on goal difference with a game in hand.

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