At times it was a result which looked in doubt, but Chelsea overcame their demons to beat Wolfsburg in the first leg of the quarter-final of the Champions League against their bogey team to set up a thrilling return. A 2-1 win in Budapest seemed unlikely after a goalless first half which showed why Wolfsburg
At times it was a result which looked in doubt, but Chelsea overcame their demons to beat Wolfsburg in the first leg of the quarter-final of the Champions League against their bogey team to set up a thrilling return.
A 2-1 win in Budapest seemed unlikely after a goalless first half which showed why Wolfsburg were the deserved German champions. The lion’s share of attacks were theirs, with the Blues often seeming to be on the back foot.
But a spirited fighting spell early in the second half paid dividends, and Emma Hayes’ side were 2-0 up after 64 minutes.
First Fran Kirby fed her strike partner Sam Kerr, who rounded the keeper and fired high into the roof of the net from a seemingly impossible tight angle after 55 minutes.
Less than 10 minutes later it was 2-0 as Kirby intercepted a loose backpass, stroked the ball to Kerr who instantly offloaded it to Pernille Harder to score against her old side.
The tension towards the end was almost unbearable as Chelsea captain Magda Eriksson mistimed a tackle in the box, and gave away a penalty which Dominique Janssen converted well.
And 2-1 it remained, despite a controversial incident in stoppage time as Alexandra Popp clattered into the airborne Ann-Katrin Berger. Both players fell injured, but Hayes (who was booked for the vehemence of her protests) clearly felt there was recklessness in Popp’s actions.
Taking a 2-1 lead into the second leg next Wednesday not only represents the first time that Chelsea have beaten their German opponents, but is a really good chance to advance to the semis of the trophy Hayes has set her heart on.
In between the games in Hungary, a domestic meeting at Kingsmeadow against Aston Villa on Sunday, when every possible change (including goalkeeper) will be made to preserve the core side ready for the revisit.
Zecira Musovic will be in goal, Hannah Blundell will be right back, Erin Cuthbert will start, as will Jessie Fleming, and Drew Spence could find herself on from the first whistle too.
It is so rare for a Chelsea team to feel uncomfortable and outplayed, but it happened in the first half of the first leg, and Hayes will be anxious to preserve what she has, especially as the converted penalty technically gives Wolfsburg an away goal in this topsy-turvy, Covid-altered Uefa landscape.