The 27-year-old’s latest treble moved her level as the league’s joint-top scorer this term on 17 goals alongside Vivianne Miedema, who netted a brace for Arsenal at Bristol City.
“The confidence in her play right now is better than I’ve ever seen from her,” Hayes said of Kerr. “She delivers the fatal blow just when the team needs it, that’s what’s so exceptional.
“Sam would do anything for the team to do well, she sacrifices herself if necessary. Her goals speak for themselves. It’s probably the happiest, the calmest and most settled she’s been.”
Victory kept Chelsea’s title defence in their own hands with three matches remaining, including a trip to face Manchester City in a potential decider, which is currently scheduled for April 25 but is expected to be rearranged as it now clashes with Chelsea’s involvement in the Women’s Champions League semi-finals.
Against a wall of five Birmingham defenders, Chelsea initially made a quiet start but they broke the deadlock when Pernille Harder’s low drive was saved by Hannah Hampton but was palmed only as far as Kerr, who slammed in the rebound from a tight angle. Harder then headed onto the bar and Kerr nodded in the rebound for her second on 45 minutes, and completed her hat-trick with a perfectly-timed leap and well-placed header into the corner from Scotland midfielder Erin Cuthbert’s hanging free-kick.
Fran Kirby got in on the act after the break as she slotted in after neatly combining with substitute Bethany England, before Kirby turned provider for Guro Reiten with a low pass for the Norway winger to add the fifth. Kirby rolled home her second in stoppage time, capping off Chelsea’s sixth straight WSL win and a sixth consecutive clean sheet.
Now without a victory in 11 league games, Birmingham are enduring their longest winless run in the 10-year WSL era. Birmingham manager Ward said: “Chelsea were outstanding, exceptional. For 44 minutes I thought we did extremely well but to concede two just before half-time was awful timing. These sorts of games won’t define our season but obviously we’re hugely disappointed. It’s a really tough one to take.”
The result left the West Midlands club three points above the drop zone but three of their four remaining games are at home against bottom-half sides, and Ward added: “Today’s was not a game where we really targeted points, it would have been a bonus if we had got any, and we will target the three home games we have.”