Chelsea are through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League after beating reigning title holders Lyon in a night of high drama at Stamford Bridge. Goalie Ann-Katrin Berger produced a world-class save in a penalty shoot-out after the score was 2-2 at the end of extra time. It was her second stop from
Chelsea are through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League after beating reigning title holders Lyon in a night of high drama at Stamford Bridge.
Goalie Ann-Katrin Berger produced a world-class save in a penalty shoot-out after the score was 2-2 at the end of extra time. It was her second stop from Lyon’s fifth spot-kick, sending the Blues through to a two-leg tie against Barcelona.
Manager Emma Hayes was cock-a-hoop about her team’s performance, saying they never gave up even when they went 2-0 down (2-1 on aggregate) against a classy Lyon side.
“It was the most character-building performance, even if it was the ugliest,” she said.
The win means Chelsea join Arsenal (who will play Wolfsburg) as the second English team to reach the semi-finals of the European competition.
However it could have been a different story as in the last minutes of extra time it looked as if Chelsea were the team going out. A flick in past Berger’s flailing arm at her near post from centre-back Danielle Gilles (77 mins) had tied the draw in normal time, and then a cracker from substitute Sara Dabritz (110 mins) had put Lyon ahead.
But the cheering Chelsea fans never gave up hope and their faith was rewarded – by the last kick of the game. Lauren James, who had her heel clipped by forward Vicki Becho, fell in the box (122 mins), the ref Ivana Martinčić was told by the video assistant referee to consult the monitor and, after what seemed an age, she pointed to the spot.
Maren Mjelde, who remained cool under intense pressure and off-putting tactics by a furious Lyon team, blasted the ball into the roof of the net on 128 minutes. Stamford Bridge erupted. Honours even.
This time manager Emma Hayes, who couldn’t bear to watch Mjelde’s last gasp kick, watched the penalty shoot-out. “Only because Guro [Reiten] made me,” she said.
It meant she saw her team win 4-3 on penalties.
“I knew Lyon would come for us today. I’m just relieved; I’m relieved that it’s over and we are through that.
“Drama, yes drama. I’m exhausted to be honest with you – relieved and exhausted.”
Chelsea are back down to earth on Sunday (April 2). They are away to Aston Villa – a crucial game in the title race for points in the Women’s Super League. The Blues are third in the table – a point behind table topping Man U – but with a game in hand.
They can’t afford any slip-ups.