The climate in Madrid was quite fair for good football from Chelsea last Thursday, and yet the Blues had one of their worst performances in recent times against the Spaniards. So in a freezing London night with snow sometimes falling from skies, the team would not be recovering so soon from the bitter 1-1 draw away, right?
Of course that would not be the case, as this would not be Chelsea playing at Kingsmeadow otherwise. With heavy rotation taking place from the team that took on Real Madrid in the Women’s Champions League group stage, the Blues were on the front foot against Reading from kickoff.
Fran Kirby’s presence certainly helped, as she was clearly eager to take on her former team yet again. It was from her that came the first few shots against the opposition’s goal, and it was one of her efforts that became our first goal of the night.
Another highlight was Jelena Cankovic. In her first start as a Chelsea player, the former Barcelona midfielder was also looking to show manager Emma Hayes and the rest of the footballing world what she is all about. It took her only a few minutes after Kirby’s opener to get herself on the scoresheet.
That was not all that we would see from Cankovic, not less in goalscoring terms. On top of adding the quality in passing that Chelsea clearly needed against Madrid, she also scored a second goal on a great cross from Erin Cuthbert.
In the second half, Chelsea continued to press forward but Reading were beginning to feel confident in their attacking forays. Our defence were showing chinks in the armour and the opposition would twice make use of them in quick succession, first via Sanne Troelsgaard and then with Amalie Eikeland with great help from goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger and our centre-backs.
Reading’s goals should have brought the best out of Chelsea in trying to keep themselves in the lead by scoring more goals and/or keeping the ball and stopping Reading from creating chances. We did the latter with some difficulty, but still we were to come out on top.
- Manager Emma Hayes goes for plenty of rotation in her lineup today, with only Ann-Katrin Berger, Millie Bright, Magda Eriksson, Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert starting from the Real Madrid match.
- Subs are Jess Carter for Niamh Charles, Sam Kerr for Beth England, Jessie Fleming for Jelena Cankovic, and Guro Reiten for Johanna Rytting Kaneryd.
- Fran Kirby against Reading is almost a cheat code.
- Cankovic will take praise from her goals, which is all duly deserved. But her overall game in this first half alone, even taking the goals away, would be totally noteworthy.
- The first half was nearly perfect, whereas the second half was just atrocious. Despite the positives, this “turning off” by the team is certainly worrying if it continuous.
- Next up: KF Vllaznia in the Women’s Champions League.