Chelsea Ladies: Title winners can test Europe's best - Hayes

Chelsea Ladies
Claire Rafferty and Katie Chapman lift the WSL title - Chelsea's second trophy of 2015

Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes praised her side's attacking prowess as the Blues clinched their first Women's Super League title on Sunday.

The Blues completed a domestic double by thrashing Sunderland 4-0.

Eniola Aluko set up Ji So-Yun's opener, before Fran Kirby's second-half brace and Gemma Davison sealed victory.

"That front four, when they get around the outside of teams and play very good football, they're capable of beating any team in Europe," said Hayes.

Chelsea begin their Champions League campaign with a round-of-32 tie against Glasgow City on Thursday, while Sunday's WSL title success confirmed their spot in the 2016-17 competition.

Recovering from adversity

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Highlights: Chelsea Ladies 4-0 Sunderland Ladies

Chelsea began the season's final day knowing a win would guarantee them the title. They had been in the same position in 2014, but lost their last game to Manchester City, and Liverpool took top spot on goal difference.

"Hindsight is such a beautiful thing and last year, actually, I'm thankful for it," striker Eniola Aluko told BBC 5 live sports extra. "This wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for last year.

"Before a lot of success comes failure. We failed last year, but it made us so much stronger. This team has courage."

Defender Gilly Flaherty added: "We have really grafted for it this year. You can't deny that we deserve this trophy.

"A lot of people called us 'bottlejobs'. Hearing people say that, you just want to step into the pitch and prove them wrong."

The turning point

Chelsea went into the mid-season break unbeaten, but fell to their first defeat against Sunderland in July.

Hayes, the only female manager in the top division of the WSL, believes the 4-0 loss proved to be a blessing for her team.

"I think they needed to lose," she said. "They were finding it too easy. Sometimes you need that reality check.

"After the FA Cup final, we have had the confidence of being a winning team. We've been on a different level."

Champions League provides solace for City

Isobel Christiansen
Isobel Christiansen's goal secured victory for Manchester City over Notts County

Manchester City, the only team that could have overhauled Chelsea on the final day, ended the campaign with a 2-1 home win over Notts County.

Nick Cushing's side took 25 points from their final nine league matches, but even that phenomenal run of form was not enough to pip Chelsea to the title.

However, qualification for next season's Champions League has provided some comfort for City, who were only in their second year as a WSL 1 club.

"We deserve European football, and I'm sure we're only going to get stronger after the winter," midfielder Isobel Christiansen told BBC Sport.

"Obviously we're disappointed to miss out on the title. The Champions League was a target at the start of the year and obviously we've achieved that. Given the mixed season, heavily disrupted by the World Cup, we've proved we're an exceptionally professional club.

"While we have mixed feelings now, the Champions League is going to be fantastic."

City were watched by a club-record crowd in excess of 3,000 at the Academy Stadium on Sunday.

"I'm running out of superlatives to describe the phenomenal support," added Christiansen. "It's been exceptional, the noise inside the stadium was incredible and it's only going to get better."

How the final day unfolded

Ji So-Yun
Ji So-Yun scored Chelsea's opening goal as the Blues thrashed Sunderland 4-0

Chelsea began the final round of fixtures with a two-point lead over second-placed Manchester City, as well as a slightly better goal difference than their nearest challengers.

They rarely looked like surrendering top spot once South Korea international Ji fired them ahead inside seven minutes against Sunderland.

Kirby netted twice in quick succession after half-time, her second a superb curling effort, and the celebrations had already begun by the time Davison scored a late fourth in the closing minutes.

City led early in their match with a looping shot by Nikita Parris, and although Rachel Williams headed an equaliser for Notts County, Christiansen's nicely-taken winner secured second spot ahead of Arsenal - as well as a Champions League berth.

Relive Chelsea's Women's Super League title triumph here.

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