Against Paris Saint-Germain in France, Chelsea put on one of their best displays this season to set the tone of their Women’s Champions League group stage journey early on. The 1-0 victory over last term’s semi-finalists really sent the message that the Blues were ones to keep a close watch in the title race.
In their return match PSG looked ready for a challenge. While Chelsea lead the group three points ahead of the French team and with a +15 goal difference against the Parisien’s +9, they were clearly also trying to send a message in the final match ahead of the continental competition’s knockout phase.
That is how things looked like in the first few minutes, with PSG dominating possession and trying to create opportunities upfront thanks to the efforts of midfielder Grace Geyoro and co.. But that did not last long as Chelsea started to win battles in midfield and connect with their offensive line, especially with Erin Cuthbert and Lauren James on the right side of the pitch.
James herself nearly scored after a superb run from Cuthbert, and herself taking Elisa de Almeida for a ride in defence with great dribbling skills. The shot was parried by goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi... and deemed a goal kick instead of a corner.
But we did not need to fret. On a massive mistake from PSG’s defence, Sam Kerr scored our first goal of the night from an amazing finish.
PSG coach Gérard Precheur tried to shake things up by making some half-time substitutions, introducing former Chelsea striker Ramona Bachmann and midfielder Kheira Hamraoui to the game. But the changes made no effect in terms of getting the visitors back. One could indeed go as far as arguing against them after Lauren James’ first goal of the night on a yet another defensive error by his team.
This would not be the last from Chelsea, nor from James. Guro Reiten tried to set up Fran Kirby for a goal with a great pass, slicing PSG’s defence open. But Kirby, selfless player that she is, saw James on a better position and decided to set her up for a brace.
James’ efforts allowed manager Emma Hayes to make several substitutions before the final whistle including taking the attacker out of the pitch right after her second goal. While this did lead to Chelsea not being as dominating over the visitors as they initially were, PSG offered no threat to Zecira Musovic’s goal for that to become a problem.
With that, Chelsea finished their Champions League group stage campaign unbeaten with five wins and a draw over six games, and just one goal scored against them.
- Not too many changes made from the starting eleven that took on Vllaznia in Albania last week, although Jelena Cankovic is a notable absence from the initial lineup.
- Subs are Johanna Rytting Kaneryd for Lauren James, Jelena Cankovic for Guro Reiten, Beth England for Sam Kerr, Jessie Fleming for Erin Cuthbert, and Ève Périsset for Niamh Charles.
- Great work from Kadeisha Buchanan to shut down PSG’s attack, allowing Erin Cuthbert and Lauren James to move up the pitch and help slow the opposition down in the first half.
- Even though she kind of disappeared after the first few minutes, Grace Geyoro would still make a great addition to Chelsea’s squad.
- A classic Sam Kerr strike to show the world she has still got it!
- Lauren James also shining with her goalscoring, with the vision and ensuing effort to steal the ball from the goalkeeper in her first goal a highlight in itself.
- Next up: Arsenal away in the Women’s Super League next month.