The visitors got their noses in front inside three minutes when Jessie Fleming pounced on a loose pass on the edge of the City box, before Sam Kerr tapped home a second on the stroke of half-time.
Gareth Taylor’s side, cheered on by a bumper home crowd, were perhaps the better of the two sides across the opening 45, with Caroline Weir forcing a fine early save from Ann-Katrin Berger and Lauren Hemp having a strong penalty claim waved away by referee Rebecca Welch.
But two further goals in the space of three second half minutes from Fran Kirby and Magdalena Eriksson put the result beyond doubt before the hour mark.
Gareth Taylor’s side came into our clash with the reigning WSL champions hoping to claim a third win on the bounce.
But, in a mirror image of last week’s WSL fixture against Leicester, City found ourselves behind early on when Fleming pounced on a loose pass from Karima Taieb for a simple close-range finish inside three minutes.
Just like in that 4-1 victory at the King Power Stadium however, City responded positively to the setback and could even have drawn level before the 10-minute mark.
Weir made a run in behind the Chelsea defence and was found by Keira Walsh, but Chelsea stopper Ann-Katrin Berger held her ground and prevented the Scottish international from grabbing the equaliser with a smart save down to her left.
City were finding some joy down the flanks, and an inviting Lauren Hemp cross found Jess Park at the back post, but with the ball landing at an awkward height she was unable to get a shot away before Eriksson hacked clear.
Alex Greenwood was next to go close, rising highest to power a Filippa Angeldahl corner towards goal which was well saved, before the Chelsea stopper was once again called into action to smother a low effort from Lauren Hemp at her near post.
The ongoing head-to-head between Berger and Hemp continued as they clattered into each other in pursuit of a 50:50 ball after Erin Cuthbert had sold her goalkeeper short with a back pass towards the end of the half.
Replays showed that the City winger had stolen in ahead of the Chelsea stopper, but referee Rebecca Welch instead signalled for a free-kick to the visitors, much to the bemusement of the Academy Stadium crowd.
And for all of City’s positive work leading into the break, Emma Hayes' side found the net right on the cusp of half-time when a swift counter ended with Guro Reiten heading back across goal for Kerr, who made no mistake with a simple finish.
It was a cruel twist of fate for Gareth Taylor’s side who had looked the more likely to score for the majority of the half, but the sucker punch would follow seven minutes after the break.
The visitors started the stronger of the two sides in the second half and were rewarded when Kirby’s cross-cum-shot found its way through a crowd of bodies and nestled in off the post.
The period of sustained pressure continued, and City were thankful to Taieb for a fine save down to her right which prevented Kerr from volleying home her second soon after.
But from the resultant flurry of corners, Eriksson rose highest to grab a fourth as the game approached the hour mark.
City continued to search for a route back into the game despite the scoreline, with Hemp twice forcing Berger into action after cutting in from the left.
Nonetheless, it was the visitors who went closest in the final throes at the Academy Stadium, as Fleming got her feet mixed up when she seemingly about to latch onto a near-post ball from the right.
How we lined up
Gareth Taylor opted for the same side which had beaten Leicester 4-1 in our previous outing, with Karima Benameur starting between the sticks.
City XI: Taieb, Stanway, Scott, Greenwood, Stokes, Walsh, Angeldahl, Weir (Losada 76’), Park, Hemp (Raso 79’) White
Subs: Pilling, Mace, Kennedy
Chelsea XI: Berger (Musovic 76’), Carter, Bright, Eriksson, Cuthbert, Reiten (Spence 76’), Leupolz, Ji (Ingle 46’), Kirby, Kerr (England 65’), Fleming
Subs: Mjelde, Andersson, James, Fox, Charles
What it means
The defeat leaves City ninth in the Women's Super League table, with two victories from our opening seven matches.
It’s a quick turnaround for City, who face Manchester United on Wednesday 17 November in the Continental Cup group stages.
Kick-off is scheduled for 19:00 (UK) at the Leigh Sports Village, as Gareth Taylor’s side aim to make it three wins from three in the competition.
Our next match in the WSL sees us welcome Aston Villa to the Academy Stadium on Saturday 20 November, with the match set to get underway at 11:30.
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