Chelsea needed only a draw to make it to Champions League playoffs. The hosts Wolfsburg, however, were in for the only result that mattered: a win to force tiebreakers as Juventus would surely beat Swiss side Servette, which failed to score a single goal in their previous five matches.
No wonder the Germans had all the impetus at the beginning of the match. While the Blues did find a few chances via Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder, the hosts were hurting our defence in somewhat atypical levels.
Proper hurt would come a little over 15 minutes over the match. The Wolves found some glaring gaps in our midfield and defence, enjoying enough time and space to get a shot at Zecira Musovic’s goal. While the goalkeeper did what she could to protect the net, the rebound fell to captain Svenja Huth who would get the opener to Wolfsburg.
Chelsea did try an immediate answer. However, a second score would come Wolfsburg’s way once again via Huth, this time with a tap-in after yet another defensive misplay.
Things did not look good for Chelsea. With little control in midfield and Harder seemingly playing alone in attack, the two-goal lead build in the first half was a big hit to our winning prospects. Worst of all was missing out on the playoff spot as Juventus were also 2-0 up against Servette, tying in goals but winning the overall tiebreaker, with Wolfsburg filling the second-place slot to take us out of contention.
The situation forced an early change, with Ji So-yun replacing Sophie Ingle at midfield. The midfielder almost made immediate impact with a shot on target less than a minute from entering the pitch.
The Blues’ attitude changed for the better in the second half, as it ought to given how they needed at least a goal to get a playoff berth. Wolfsburg however were still very dangerous, with Tamea Wassmuth — CL’s best goalscorer this season — being a constant menace to a very tired defence.
Wassmuth would be the scorer of Wolfsburg’s third tonight. Another defensive breakdown and she is free to beat Zucira Musovic to add another goal to her record, after assisting the hosts’ second goal. The goal would also put them in first place of group A, with Juventus still in second place.
Several changes were made in the second half to put the Blues in better footing offensively. For a few minutes it looked like two goals could come, but the hopes would soon be crushed by a second Wassmuth goal, thanks again to defensive errors.
- A strong lineup to face Wolfsburg, with Ann-Katrin Berger’s shoes filled in again by Zecira Musovic. All strength upfront with Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby all starting the bout.
- Subs are Ji So-yun for Sophie Ingle, Aniek Nouwen for Magda Eriksson, Jessie Flemning for Fran Kirby, Niamh Charles for Jess Carter, and Beth England for Guro Reiten.
- While it was logical to start the match with a mindset to get the result we needed, our own defence was just not good enough to fully implement the plan. Midfield did not help either, inviting the hosts into our defensive third despite their best efforts at not doing so.
- The early change in midfield could be seen miles away.
- Tired bodies, most likely tired minds. Really need a proper break to reset, and maybe some January transfer window signings to freshen things up a bit and fight at least for domestic dominance.
- Next up: West Ham at Kingsmeadow for the Women’s Super League.