Both sides set out to play their usual possession-based game in this quarterfinal first leg, with Chelsea pressing high effectively and winning the ball a couple times to create dangerous opportunities. We were unable to take advantage however before Wolfsburg wisely switched away from their passing approach to go a bit more direct on what was a less than ideal pitch in Budapest.
Wolfsburg, technically the away side, repeatedly shredded Chelsea down our left flank with overloads, 2-v-1s, and simple speed, and put in multiple dangerous crosses. Chelsea survived thanks to some last ditch defending, a great double-save by Berger, a goal-line clearance, and a lucky bounce or two off the woodwork, too. Wolfsburg did have the ball in the back of the net once, but it was such an obvious handball that the Wolfsburg player was even booked.
The second half began in much the same fashion, with Wolfsburg again hitting the post and Berger pulling off a masterful save. The Blues were definitely living a charmed life.
And then, as it often happens, Chelsea found the cutting edge, with Sam Kerr slamming one into the roof of the net from a tight angle after some slick passing by Ji, Leupolz, and Kirby through the center, and Harder doubling the lead after Kirby intercepted a very poor goal kick.
Wolfsburg replied quickly with a goal from the penalty spot to make amends for that gift — again getting behind on the flank and crossing in — but Chelsea were able to prevent them from scoring again.
So, 2-1 is a fantastic result, all things considered, especially as Chelsea could’ve, should’ve been down multiple goals at one point. But we made our chances count, and in the end, that’s what counts more than anything.
The job’s only half done however.
- As expected, Niamh Charles deputized at right back for the injured Maren Mjelde, and did a good job, with good speed in crucial moments and strong tackling when needed. Wolfsburg targeted Andersson on the left to good effect however.
- Leupolz, Ingle, and Ji tried to lock down the center, but Wolfsburg mostly targeted the flanks.
- Front three of Kerr, Harder, Kirby often a bit too isolated, especially in the first half. But showed their quality in individual moments to make a telling difference.
- Cuthbert, Reiten the subs off the bench as Chelsea stayed mostly in a 4-3-3.
- Hopefully Berger’s groin strain isn’t too bad. She’s been fantastic.
- UPDATE: Charles’ booking, harsh as it was, still means that she will miss the second leg.
- Second leg a week from now, back here at the Szusza Ferenc Stadium in Budapest, Hungary. Wolfsburg will be the “home” side then, technically, for any away goals consideration.