Bethany England and Fran Kirby were both the hat-trick heroes as defending Women’s Super League champions Chelsea inflicted Bristol City’s heaviest defeat this season.

The visiting Robins, who are unbeaten in their last five league games, were left shellshocked when Erin Cuthbert assisted the first two goals inside six minutes.

And their nightmare start went from bad to worse as they went on to concede four more goals - three in either half.

Arsenal and Manchester City’s victories over Yeovil Town and Everton respectively means the gap between the top two and Chelsea remains unchanged.

Dumping the Gunners out of the FA Cup just three days earlier didn’t seem to deter the Blues, though, as they got off to a fast start.

Cuthbert found space out on the right wing to tee up Kirby two minutes in for the opener.

And Bristol City, who were knocked out by an unfancied Durham in the shock of the last 16, were still reeling from the first goal as Cuthbert laid on England for the second four minutes later.

But it was when Kirby fashioned enough space in the box that she fired past Robins keeper Sophie Baggaley for her brace on 34 minutes.

While the visitors did go close in the opening seconds of the match, it was their defensive interventions which kept the score down.

Gemma Evans’ last-ditch tackle stopped Kirby in her tracks as Cuthbert looked poised to set her on the way, before the defence cut out her teasing cross into England.

Whatever was said in the Bristol City dressing room at half time didn’t have the desired effect, with England finding her second just past the hour mark.

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes soon began to ring in the changes, bringing on all three substitutes in quick succession.

And one of them, Adelina Engman, had an instant impact - after she was brought down inside the box for a penalty, Kirby duly swept in her 13th goal this season on 82 minutes.

But not to be outdone, England rose highest to guide a header past a hapless Baggaley for the sixth goal of the game and her 16th this campaign.