Emma Hayes said it was “like being back with family” as the Chelsea boss returned to the dugout to see her side beat Tottenham 3-0 in the Women’s Super League.
In front of a 38,000 crowd at Stamford Bridge, Sam Kerr opened the scoring after 12 minutes with a smart finish. Erin Cuthbert celebrated the signing of a new contract with the club with a stunning volley to double Chelsea’s lead before Guro Reiten’s penalty made it 3-0 before the break.
The manner of victory delighted Hayes, who had been missing since early October as she recovered from hysterectomy surgery.
“My back was killing me in the second half, but I didn’t feel like I’d been away,” she told the BBC.
“I just felt like I was going back to my family.”
Victory put Chelsea three points clear at the summit although second-placed Arsenal have a game in hand on their rivals.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa consolidated their place in mid-table with a comfortable 3-1 win over Reading thanks to a hat-trick from Rachel Daly.
Lauren Wade gave Reading an early lead but Daly scored two headed goals to put Villa ahead before the break.
Reading had goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns sent off for a foul on Kirsty Hanson and Daly notched her treble with a penalty past substitute goalkeeper Grace Moloney.
Reading are second from bottom with just three points.
Villa remain level on points but ahead of West Ham in the table after the Hammers recorded a narrow 1-0 victory over Leicester.
It looked like the beleaguered Foxes were going to secure their first point of the season until Izzy Atkinson scored a late winner.
There was further pain for Leicester as Ashleigh Plumptre’s late goal was ruled out for offside after the ball struck a team-mate.
Brighton and Liverpool shared the spoils following a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Missy Bo Kearns gave the Reds a 17th-minute lead but it was quickly cancelled out by Elisabeth Terland.
Brighton were good value for a two-goal advantage after Danielle Carter netted from the spot and Katie Robinson scored a stunning long-range strike before the interval.
But Shanice van de Sanden’s headed finish 14 minutes from time sparked a Liverpool comeback and there were jubilant scenes as Rachel Furness grabbed an equaliser in stoppage-time.
Ninth-placed Brighton remain three points and a place above Liverpool.