A record sellout crowd of 4670 at Kingsmeadow saw Chelsea’s brilliant run in the Women’s Champions League finally came to end on Sunday, at the hands of three-time defending champions Lyon, who will face Barcelona in the final.
A 2-1 deficit from the first leg in France proved too much to overcome for the Blues, despite achieving a draw on the day. The task was made so much harder when Maren Mjelde deflected Eugenie Le Sommer’s shot past her own goalkeeper in the 17th minute. Although the effort was goalbound, it was clearly Mjelde’s touch which had the beating of Ann Katrin Berger.
The goal rubbed salt in the wounds of Chelsea, who had conceded an own goal in the first leg, but the Blues were certainly down and not out. A trademark bursting run from PFA Player of the Year nominee Erin Cuthbert was cut short on the edge of the box by Delphine Cascarino, and it was Chelsea’s other nominee, Ji So-yun, who delightfully chipped in the resulting free kick ten minutes before half-time.
The Blues huffed and puffed in the remaining hour, and they were not without their chances to take the tie to extra-time; the most notable efforts came from captain Karen Carney, who’s curving effort hit the post, and Millie Bright, who could only poke the ball straight at Sarah Bouhaddi from point-blank range.
Despite exiting the competition, it has been a wonderful run from Chelsea, who made up for their sub-par league campaign with their European results. However, this does mean that European football will not be returning to Kingsmeadow for at least a season, as the Blues also failed to qualify via their league position. However, any disappointment should be replaced with pride in how the team pushed what is arguably the best team in women’s football right down to the wire.
The Blues have two league games to round off the season, away to Yeovil (Tuesday 7th) and Reading (Saturday 11th), before focus turns to the World Cup in France.
Form is temporary. Class is permanent . I love you @ChelseaFCW— Emma Hayes MBE (@emmahayes1) April 28, 2019
Chelsea starting eleven (4-1-4-1) Berger; Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson (Blundell 56); Ingle (Spence 77); Bachmann (England 62), Ji , Cuthbert, Carney (c); Kirby
Lyon starting eleven (4-3-3): Bouhaddi; Bronze, M’Bock Bathy, Renard, Bacha (Fishlock 46); Marozsan, Henry (Kumagai 83), Majri; Cascarino (Van de Sanden 69), Hegerberg, Le Sommer