Chelsea Women’s last game of 2022 showed just how far the team have come since beefing up the squad with a handful of new players in the summer. A 3-0 victory over a muscular and speedy Paris Saint-Germain didn’t seem possible in the early minutes at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening, in front of 10,129
Chelsea Women’s last game of 2022 showed just how far the team have come since beefing up the squad with a handful of new players in the summer.
A 3-0 victory over a muscular and speedy Paris Saint-Germain didn’t seem possible in the early minutes at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening, in front of 10,129 ebullient fans.
But PSG’s initial domination was eventually countered by a Chelsea team who were finally roused from a festive slumber in the 14th minute when Kadidalou Diani let fly from 40 yards after spotting that Zecira Musovic (now preferred to the accident-prone Ann-Katrin Berger) was off her line. The ball looped and descended before ricocheting off the crossbar and bouncing harmlessly into the Shed End seating as Musovic backtracked and flailed.
Suddenly the Blues collectively focused, realising that defeat was a very real possibility. An industrious Erin Cuthbert shrugged off challenges to unleash a long-range shot, Lauren James (making a rare but welcome start) fired close before, three minutes ahead of the interval, Sophie Ingle headed upfield, Sakina Karchaoul miscontrolled, and Sam Kerr broke through to fire into the roof of the net for 1-0.
Former Kingsmeadow favourite Ramona Bachmann came on as a second-half sub for PSG, but on 56 minutes James added a second goal after French keeper Sarah Bouhaddi had showboated about in her area, then delivered a poor kick upfield, jeered by the Chelsea fans behind her goal.
An interchange of passes left James clear, and the resulting goal finally knocked the wind out of PSG. It was no surprise when James added another just before the hour mark.
Beth England came on as a sub, and was handed the simplest chance of the night by Fran Kirby rolling the ball in front of her with four minutes of normal time to go. But it’s a measure of her lack of confidence that she fired wide.
She is now looking for fresh opportunities of regular football, to reconstruct and resurrect her striking career in January’s transfer window. Chelsea will not stand in the way of a move, and many other clubs will welcome her industry and commitment.
Staging major Champions League fixtures at Stamford Bridge will now be the norm for Chelsea Women, with 20,000 fans the target for European ties in SW6 throughout 2023.