Former Reading player Fran Kirby produced a four-goal masterclass to earn Chelsea Women a convincing victory at the Madejski Stadium.
Kirby netted a scintillating first-half hat-trick and added to her heroics by scoring a fourth in the second, before Ji added a fifth to wrap up a comfortable victory for the WSL champions.
Reading were looking to kickstart their season after they ended 2020 with a 3-1 victory at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Reading knew all about the threat of Fran Kirby, who scored a remarkable 68 goals in 42 appearances for the Royals having come up through the ranks at the club’s academy, but they were unable to deal with her threat.
Kirby burst forward into the box into the box after playing a one, two with Sam Kerr and looked for a return but Jess Fishlock made a vital interception to clear the danger to prevent Chelsea taking the lead just five minutes into the contest.
Grace Moloney was called into action to made a fine stop from Kerr who received a pass in the middle from Kirby, but she would have been denied by the offside flag had she found the back of the net.
Reading’s first attempt came with a speculative from Fara Williams from a free-kick from 35 yards out, but she scuffed her effort which flew harmlessly wide.
Having dominated the early proceedings, the Blues took the lead in the 14th minute. A long ball was flicked on by Kerr to find Kirby , who beat the offside trap, before taking the ball round Moloney and tapping the ball into the empty net.
Kirby threatened again and came inches away form adding a stunning second when she cut in from the left and blasted a shot goalwards from the edge of the box which cannoned off the post.
But just a minute after striking the post, Kirby did find the back of the net to add her second of the game.
Emma Mitchell gave the ball away cheaply as Kirby stole possession and showed great strength to shrug off the challenge of Mitchell before she dispatched the ball into the bottom corner.
Looking to find a route back into the match, Royals skipper Tash Harding tried an optimistic effort as she spotted Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger off her line and tried to loop the ball over her on the half volley, but the ball dropped just wide of the target.
Mitchell made a last-ditch interception to prevent Kirby from completing her hat-trick as she nicked the ball away from her after Kerr unselfishly squared the ball in the middle to try and find her teammate.
But in added time of the first-half, Kirby rounded off her superb display by completing her hat-trick.
Kerr clawed the ball into the middle from the by-line and found an unmarked Kirby in the middle who nodded the ball into the top corner.
Reading’s disappointing first-half showing left them with plenty of work to do against the current WSL champions in the second-half.
Kirby’s almost added to her excellent game with a fourth but was disposseed just before she could take a strike as Fishlock slid in with a perfectly timed tackle.
But Reading just couldn’t get to grips with the former Royal, whose excellent afternoon continued as she scored a fourth. She leaped at the front post to beat her marker from a corner and directed the ball into the far corner to put the game further out of sight for the Royals.
Chelsea had a brilliant chance to add a fifth when substitute Pernille Harder used her pace to break through the Reading defence but she couldn’t finish as Moloney came off her line to made an important stop.
But the Blues weren’t finished with their scoring as they added a fifth in the 86th minute. Ji took a superb touch in the box to take the ball away from a defender before she fired the ball on the half volley past Moloney.
Kelly Chambers’ side remain in sixth place in the Women’s Super League table after all other league fixtures were postponed. They host Arsenal Women next Sunday at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading Women: Moloney, Leine, Cooper, Mitchell, Woodham, Harding, Fishlock, James, Williams, Harries, Eikeland
Subs: Bartrip, Bruton, Nayler, Carter, Rowe, Skeels, Roberts
Chelsea Women: Berger, Blundell, Bright, Cuthbert, Andersson, Leupolz, Ingle, Kirby, Reiten, Charles, Kerr
Subs: England, Ji, Eriksson, Fleming, Mjelde, Harder, Telford
Goals: Kirby 16′, 23′, 45+1′, 51′, Ji 85′