‘Welcome to England’: Kerr cops brutal introduction
Sam Kerr has kicked off life as a Chelsea player with a victory helping her new side to a 3-1 win over Reading in the FA Women's Super League.
The Matildas superstar only met her teammates for the first time this week, but was named in the starting line-up by Blues manager Emma Hayes and almost made a dream start within the opening minutes when she was played through on goal.
Kerr had plenty of time to finish past Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney, but uncharacteristically she blazed her effort over the bar.
Chelsea were punished for that missed opportunity and fell behind in the 15th minute when England international Fara Williams fired into the bottom corner. It was a frantic introduction to English football for Kerr, who grew into the game despite the heavy strapping on her right thigh.
It was relentless pressure that led to the sending off of Moloney with the Irish keeper was shown a red card for wiping out the Australia captain on the edge of the box.
After some lengthy medical attention Kerr bounced back in style, setting up strike partner Bethany England with a brilliant backheel for Chelsea's equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
The former Perth Glory star then had a brilliant chance to put Chelsea ahead early in the second half, but again failed to finish a one-on-one opportunity with her blocked effort pounced upon by Norway winger Guro Reiten who made it 2-1.
Chelsea made the game safe when Erin Cuthbert tapped in from close range 15 minutes from time.
Kerr took her bow a minute later, receiving a hearty reception from the 2,228-strong crowd and stayed long after full-time to sign autographs and take selfies.
She acknowledged that adapting to a new city, a new climate and new teammates has been a challenge.
"It's freezing to be honest," Kerr said.
"But I'm enjoying it. The girls are quality and they've really welcomed me. I've settled in as best I can in nine days."
As well as the weather, Kerr will be hoping she can adapt to the rougher side of English football after receiving some heavy challenges from the Reading defenders.
"I've had a few of those in training so I've already had my welcome to England," she said.
"It's a contact sport so I took one for the team. The last few years I've noticed that goalies and defenders have been a bit more rough, and I like it like that. I like to challenge myself against the best."
Hayes was impressed with the Australian on and off the pitch and said it didn't take much to persuade her to join the two-time WSL champions.
"I didn't convince her, I didn't put it on her," Hayes said.
"I shared what our club is about. I got to know her and I didn't put her under pressure. She was 'a darl' as she would say.
"Humble, hardworking, honest, thoughtful. An unbelievable team player.
"She cares about what the team think about her and she will work and do her job for the team at any point. You can have top players, but to have a top player who is a top person, happy days."