Emma Hayes had insisted beforehand that this game should not be considered a big event.
‘No one is getting married,’ she noted as she tried to maintain a sense of composure and perspective on what it would take to get an English team to the Champions League final for the first time in 14 in an engaging pre-match discussion. ladies to send years.
It certainly didn’t feel that way on Sunday evening. As Five Star’s tension rumbled from her team’s locker room, Hayes was able to think about finally crossing the threshold, following the desperation of Chelsea’s semifinal eliminations in both 2018 and 2019.
Emma Hayes’ squad makes history by reaching their very first Women’s Champions League final
Hayes’ incredible Chelsea side (right) is also chasing a historic quadruple this season
The final victory over Barcelona in Gothenburg on May 16 is said to be extraordinarily well-timed, with the UK domestic game on the eve of the greatly increased profile that next season’s Sky and BBC WSL TV deal will bring.
But the technical excellence of football – befitting the Premier League, as this Chelsea team has done many times this season – is testament to the levels the women’s game has reached, not just where it’s headed.
The game had been played from a relentless lead, with Bayern’s counterattack a source of constant danger, before Pernille Harder hit the crucial breakthrough six minutes before the end.
The Dane ran across the face of goal to meet Jess Carter’s free kick and headed past the goalkeeper – a skill with a high degree of technical difficulty.
Chelsea opened the scoring of the first half with a goal from Fran Kirby in the 10th minute
Kirby was on fire for Chelsea lately and went on to score again during the game
However, it was Bayern’s Sarah Zadrazil who tied the score with a 29-minute goal
MATCHES AND PLAYER RATINGS
Chelsea (4-3-3) Berger 6.5; Carter 6, Bright 6, Eriksson 7.5, Charles 7.5; Leupolz 6 (Cuthbert 88), Ingle, Ji 8; Kirby 8.5, Harder 7 (Spence 90), Kerr 7
Manager: E Hayes 7.5
Bayern Munich (3-5-2) Benkarth 5.5; Glass 5.5, Hegering 7, Ilestedt 6 (Laudehr 87); Simon 6 (Wenninger 75 6), Schuller 6 (Dahlmann 60 6.5), Magull, Zadrazil 7, Beerensteyn 7.5; Lohmann 6.5 (Asseyi 75 6), Buhl 7
Manager: J. Scheuer 7.5
Referee: E. Staubli (Switzerland) 7.5
Fran Kirby – who added a fourth – was the outstanding player of the game. So-Yun Hi was effortless again.
The finale will hopefully reveal her pretty exquisite gifts to a wider audience. Magda Eriksson was a huge presence when the Germans drove for the equalizer in the second half.
But it was also the afternoon when young Merseyside fullback Niamh Charles made a big statement. While Liverpool’s ambition in women’s football faded, Charles left the club last year.
It was Chelsea’s win. This achievement is a reward for the club’s commitment to a decade-long women’s team. On Sunday evening, Hayes reflected on a conversation with club president Bruce Buck and former soccer director Michael Emenalo in 2012, in which she promised that one day it would be Chelsea in the final.
“I think it’s a great moment for women’s football,” Hayes reflected.
‘We have always had to play second fiddle to the men in European football. I hope this can encourage more English teams to think about it.
‘I also hope there were little girls at home, 10-year-olds, building their own stories. I’ve never had [female football] role models and I hope these girls do now. ‘
It is not lost to anyone at Chelsea, who are the favorites to win the WSL final title, that the club could capture the historic feat of winning the Champions League for men and women in the same season.
Chelsea initially took to the German front runners like an express train, with Kirby driving the offensive trident that overwhelmed them before opening the scoring. 27-year-old drove forward from her own half to find Kerr cutting into Amanda. Ilstedt and returned the ball for Kirby to soften it into space to score.
Nevertheless, Chelsea again took the advantage thanks to Ji So-yun (center)
There is no way to legislate for an equalizer like Bayern’s. Austrian Sarah Zadrazil hit the ball and sent a 30-meter half volley away from Ann-Katrin Berger and into the top corner.
But Ji took care of her own class by hitting a free kick into Bayern’s wall and easing the rebound through a forest of players to bring the total scores up to par. Harder’s third goal was far from the end. Eriksson went off the line in the 90th minute and fell into the goal while doing so.
Bayern manager Jens Scheuer claimed that Chelsea were ‘not the best team over the two games’. His side turned down opportunities. Lineth Beerensteyn a relentless threat, which posed the one that left Lea Schuller next to the score at 1-1.
They also hammered the door for the second goal that would have knocked out Chelsea. But Kirby saw things through in stoppage time – passing the ball in an empty net on the counter while stranded German goalkeeper Laura Benkarth joined her team’s attack.
A moment in history lies ahead, regardless of the outcome. The final is contested between two parties that have never reached it before. For the first time since Arsenal won it in 2007 – with Hayes on their coaching staff – neither a French nor a German side will take the trophy. And Hayes will become the first woman in 12 years to coach a team that has achieved it. But she is not ready yet.
Before Kirby scored again to make it 4-1 and take Chelsea to the upcoming final
WOMEN’S SOCCER 5-A-SIDES
BY IAN HERBERT AND KATHRYN BATTE
1 – Baroness Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, has said the governing body will issue new guidelines for women and girls after a study last week found that teenage girls are twice as likely to suffer brain damage as boys when they lead a football. “The fact that we see enough evidence to be concerned means we are taking this very seriously, as we should,” Campbell said.
2 – The governing body also says they will aim for every schoolgirl to have equal access to play football in gym classes and extracurricular clubs by 2024.
The FA has established 150 Barclays Girls’ Football School Partnerships, which currently reach 42 percent of schools nationally. Over the next three years, they will try to increase this to 300 to reach 90 percent of schools across England.
3 Leyton Orient’s decision to cut ties with their women’s team is mind-boggling. There was no advance warning. This reveals a lack of respect for the players who have worn the badge for the past six years.
4 Birmingham will be left with a burning sense of injustice if the FA deducts three points from them for drafting an unsuitable player against Reading. The players found it grossly unfair for the FA to award Tottenham Hotspur the points after a game against them was canceled in January due to the ‘unprecedented’ shortage of players in Birmingham.
Three other games were canceled that weekend, including Everton’s, after manager Willie Kirk said he had 14 fit players due to Covid infections. Birmingham had even less than that available – but were the only points docked to the side.
5 Chelsea’s interest in Lauren James gives Manchester United the first challenge of a summer where they need to upgrade their facilities to the level of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City to convince players of their ambition.
A move would reunite James with her brother Reece at Chelsea, but the 19-year-old would face more of a challenge starting a regular.