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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

New Contract - Rising Sterling

Dujon Sterling
Preparation for matchday five in the UEFA Youth League has been slightly different to the norm for our Under-19s, who departed on the 2,500-mile trip to Baku before the sun was up on Tuesday morning.

Joe Edwards’s side can secure their progress from the group stage with victory in Azerbaijan and, if a Blues win is combined with a draw between Atletico Madrid and Roma in the other Group C game, the two-time winners will book their place in the last-16 without the need for a play-off tie, a fate that awaits the group runners-up.

Many of the Under-19 squad were involved in a 3-2 victory at Tottenham for our development squad at the weekend, their first win at that age group since August, while Dujon Sterling and Ethan Ampadu travelled to the Hawthorns with the first team, the latter named on the bench for the fourth consecutive Premier League game.

Sterling has spent much of his recent time with Antonio Conte’s men, deputising in the injury absence of Victor Moses. The defender made his debut in the Carabao Cup tie against Nottingham Forest, replacing Davide Zappacosta in the 76th minute, and this week signed a new four-and-a-half year contract at the club.

‘I’m over the moon to sign a new deal at Chelsea,’ Sterling tells the official Chelsea website in the build-up to our midweek European action. ‘I think the club have rewarded me for my performances in the last year, winning the FA Youth Cup and doing well.’

The teenager, who signed for our Academy as an Under-8 after coming through the development centre programme, reflects fondly on his maiden first team appearance.

‘It was probably the best day of my life so far,’ he says. ‘Coming on at Stamford Bridge was an unbelievable feeling, the fans were great and the recognition from the crowd and fans on social media afterwards was so positive.

‘Working regularly with the first team has been a good experience for me. It’s a stepping stone to help me become comfortable working with these players week in, week out, which is my ultimate goal. Victor [Moses] and Davide [Zappacosta] are always talking to me, giving me good advice. Everyone just tells me to keep expressing myself, don’t be shy and keep doing the stuff that has got me noticed.’

Sterling was a UEFA Youth League winner as a schoolboy in 2015/16 and has featured in all four of our previous outings this campaign. The 18-year-old sees the competition as an important transition from youth team football to the senior game.

‘Losing at home to Roma was a disappointment but to go away and beat them convincingly, even though it was only a one-goal winning margin, showed that we can bounce back,' he explains. 'The competition gives you the chance to play against the top elite players around Europe – the dream is to play in the Champions League and the Youth League is the step that can help you get there.’

Manager Edwards has been impressed with how our Azerbaijani opponents have competed in their debut season in the competition, winning 1-0 away at Atletico Madrid three weeks ago to hand them their first group points. He acknowledges that result will give them confidence but believes their approach will be similar to our meeting on matchday one. The Blues eventually ran out 5-0 winners back in September but the contest was goalless at the interval and Qarabag enjoyed some success in stifling our attacking threat.

‘We were disappointed after the first game not to score more goals but we know we have to show a bit more respect to Qarabag now after their win away in Madrid last time out, which was a big achievement for a club of their stature,’ notes Edwards.

‘In the game last time they came and tried to frustrate us, sat behind the ball, broke the game up and there were a lot of fouls. They beat Atletico but played similar in that game and were just clinical with one of the few breaks they had so we know what to expect from them and we’re prepared for it.

‘Our team selection and game plan will reflect how we need to counter that approach from them and hopefully we can. We can get qualification with a win and could even win the group if the other result goes our way so we want to put in a good performance.’

The match takes place at Karabakh Stadium, the first team ground, in Baku today (Wednesday), kick-off 12noon UK time. There will be updates throughout on our official Twitter @chelseafc

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Monday, 20 November 2017

Player on Loan News

Player on Loan News
We round up action for our players out on loan, with league and cup successes, and look at the week ahead…

Loan highlights

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was voted Man of the Match by Crystal Palace fans after impressing on the right-hand side of midfield in a 2-2 draw with Everton at Selhurst Park. The 21-year-old helped the Eagles get off to a flying start when he forced a good save from Jordan Pickford which led to James McArthur giving the home side a first-minute lead.
Tammy Abraham started up front for Swansea who were beaten 2-0 at Burnley. Izzy Brown and Kurt Zouma potentially go head to head in Monday night’s fixture between Brighton and Stoke.
Jamal Blackman, who last week spoke to this website about his loan, was on the winning side in Friday night’s Championship fixture, when Sheffield United won 3-1 at Burton. They are second in the table, two points behind leaders Wolves. The following day there were three Chelsea loanees in the Hull City backline, with Ola Aina, Michael Hector and Fikayo Tomori all playing the full 90 minutes for the Tigers in a 2-2 draw against Ipswich. Tomas Kalas (pictured) featured at the back for Fulham in Saturday evening’s fixture against Derby, which ended 1-1.
In League One, Jay Dasilva played at left-back for Charlton who drew 2-2 with MK Dons, while Jordan Houghton was in the Doncaster midfield in a goalless draw against Fleetwood Town.
Bradley Collins was between the sticks for Forest Green Rovers who beat Crewe 3-2 in League Two. It was a great night last Tuesday for another of our goalkeepers, Nathan Baxter, as he kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win for National League Woking at League One side Bury in an FA Cup first-round replay. They will now host another third-tier club, Peterborough United, in the second round.
Moving to Holland, there were Chelsea representatives on both sides of the Eredivise meeting between Groningen and Vitesse Arnhem. Todd Kane played right-back for Groningen, who won 4-2. Fankaty Dabo and Miazga started in the Vitesse rearguard, with Dabo conceding an own goal, and Mason Mount came on as a second-half substitute.
Marco van Ginkel was in action for league leaders PSV Eindhoven, who beat Zwolle 1-0. In Russia, Mario Pasalic came on as a substitute for Spartak Moscow who won 4-1 at Krasnodar, while in Serbia, Danilo Pantic featured for Partizan Belgrade in a 2-0 victory at Javor. In Belgium, Victorien Angban played in a 3-0 defeat for Waasland-Beveren against Club Brugge.

The week ahead

Wednesday is a big day in Europe for the first team and the Under-19s who both play away to Qarabag. Antonio Conte’s men are in action at 5pm UK time with a 12 noon (UK time) start for the younger age group who currently lead their UEFA Youth League group by three points. Only the top team in that competition are guaranteed a place in the knockout stage, with the runners up going into play-offs.
Saturday is a double-header against Liverpool with a PL2 game for our development squad at 2pm followed by a match at Anfield for the first team at 5.30pm. The PL2 match is at Cobham so no spectators will be admitted.
Before then, at 10.30am, the Under-18s take on West Ham in a game that is live on Chelsea TV.
There is a break in Chelsea Ladies fixtures due to international matches.
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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Premier League Match Report - West Bromwich 0 Chelsea 4

West Bromwich 0 Chelsea 4
Antonio Conte’s 50th Premier League game in charge was celebrated in style, with our joint-best win in the competition this season.

Outstanding displays from our front two of Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard, who contributed three of the goals, were backed up by plenty of other strong contributions in a dominant display which yielded a fourth league win in a row and a third consecutive league clean sheet.

There was plenty to admire about both Morata’s opener and Hazard’s first of the game, and Marcos Alonso from a set-piece established a 3-0 lead by half-time. Hazard netted his second and the fourth goal overall just past the hour to send the team to Azerbaijan in good spirits, and above Tottenham in the Premier League table after their defeat in the north London derby earlier in the day.

For our match in the Midlands, Conte unsurprisingly named a side unchanged from the one which had beaten Manchester United impressively two weekends ago, and they justified his decision.
West Brom had a brief flurry early the game but once Chelsea had seen that off and taken the lead, this was a win that was never in doubt and the home fans, whose side had only won two of their previous 20 Premier League games, were audibly disgruntled long before half-time.

The Baggies had the first attack of real penetration, Jake Livermore at its heart, and the first effort on-target when Jay Rodriguez’s header was saved by Thibaut Courtois. Although our keeper could not do similar moments later from Salomon Rondon, the offside flag went up as the ball crossed the line.

Rondon was found inside our area again on nine minute but the closely marking Cesar Azpilicueta was able to snuff out the danger on that occasion, and it was time for the Blues to properly take control.

Andreas Christensen initiated an attack but when Davide Zappacosta’s cross came over, neither Morata nor Tiemoue Bakayoko could make it pay, and nor could the French midfielder soon after when he did everything right in taking a Cesc Fabregas pass and spinning to face the target, but he hooked the ball wide.

So we reached the quarter-of-an-hour mark goalless but the wait for the opener lasted only two minutes more as with his first chance of the game, Morata scored his ninth goal of the season. It was an expert finish too, the ball hooked in low first-time by the Spaniard’s left foot after Ben Foster’s dive and save had kept out Hazard’s stinging shot from distance. A long passing move had preceded that goal.
It was Hazard soon after who was surprisingly the first of five players booked for a barge on Grzegorz Krychowiak but he was soon making a positive contribution again with a sublime second goal. Fabregas played a pass through the middle which was helped on its way by a touch of first-class vision and technique by Morata. Hazard took the ball wide of Foster and then found the net; his turn to score with his left foot.
Foster escaped gifting the Blues another goal with a careless piece of control inside his penalty area. His follow-up stretch reached the ball just before Morata but another goal did come before the break and again our centre-forward was involved.

This time he won a free-kick on the left edge of the penalty area with powerful play. Fabregas delivered to the far post and Alonso kicked it into the roof of the net. Simple as that. 3-0. Thirty-seven minutes played.

Into the second half, Hazard’s brilliant run as Chelsea counter-attacked from on our own box nearly increased the Baggies’ misery but Foster saved well and when Fabregas latched onto the loose ball and was challenged, he was cautioned for simulation, as was the home team’s Rondon down the other end soon after.
Great play from Morata then forced another save from the West Brom keeper. The Spaniard was exposing the defence time and time again, as was Hazard with his bravery in attacking the opposition through the middle. Fabregas, almost needless to say, was the man who picked out our no.10 for his second goal of the game and having manoeuvred away from Ahmed Hegazi, Hazard patiently waited for the right moment before smashing the ball into the net.
Morata scooped another chance over after Kante had split the defence. On this second game since injury, the French dynamo again caught the eye.
The clean sheet was almost spoiled when James McClean was allowed a clear run on goal inside the final 10 minutes but the substitute wastefully shot wide, so our best-ever winning margin at the Hawthorns was assured.

Chelsea (3-5-2): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill (c); Zappacosta (Drinkwater 67), Kante (Willian 76), Fabregas, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard (Pedro 70), Morata.
Unused subs Caballero, Rudiger, David Luiz, Ampadu.
Scorers Morata 17, Hazard 23, 62, Alonso 38
Hazard 19, Fabregas 50, Morata 89

West Brom (3-5-2): Foster; McAuley, Hegazy, Evans (c); Phillips (McClean 83), Krychowiak (Yacob h-t), Barry, Livermore, Gibbs: Rondon, Rodriguez (Burke 70).
Unused subs Myhill, Nyom, Brunt, Robson-Kanu.
Rondon 54, Yacob 88.

Referee Jon Moss
Crowd 23,592

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Premier League 2 Match Report - Tottenham 2 Chelsea 3

Tottenham 2 Chelsea 3
Our development squad collected three points on their travels for the first time this season as Martell Taylor-Crossdale’s brace and a late penalty from Callum Hudson-Odoi earned a deserved victory for the Blues.

The win helped Joe Edwards’s side rise three places to seventh in the Premier League 2 table and was entirely merited on the balance of play. They led as early as the second minute after Taylor-Crossdale poked in from close range, though the lead lasted less than 10 minutes as Shayon Harrison levelled for Tottenham.

It was 1-1 at the break before Taylor-Crossdale headed us back in front and then Hudson-Odoi converted a stoppage-time penalty after substitute Luke McCormick had been felled in the box. Kazaiah Sterling’s looping header ensured a nervy final couple of minutes but the visitors held firm to claim an important win.

Edwards made three changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Arsenal three weeks previously as Dujon Sterling travelled to the Hawthorns with the first team squad and Charly Musonda was sidelined with injury. Reece James came into the team at right-back, joining Trevoh Chalobah, Jake Clarke-Salter and Josh Grant in a back four protecting Jamie Cumming in goal.

Taylor-Crossdale continued to lead the line up front supported by Harvey St Clair, Jacob Maddox and Hudson-Odoi. The latter, one of our England Under-17 World Cup winners, had signed his first professional contract at the club the previous afternoon. In central midfield, Kyle Scott partnered Ruben Sammut.
Spurs included Argentinian international Erik Lamela in their starting 11 but it was the visitors who struck an early breakthrough on a drizzly afternoon at the Tottenham training ground. Creative short corner routines were a regular feature during Tuesday’s Cobham friendly win against Leyton Orient and it was a similar set-piece that fashioned the opening goal.

St Clair and Hudson-Odoi worked the ball to find the clever forward run of Scott and the midfielder squeezed a low cross into the six-yard box from the byline. There were bodies packed into a confined central area but Taylor-Crossdale found some space and provided enough contact on the ball to poke it over the line.
The Blues were buoyed by their early advantage and created further chances to extend the lead. Sammut and St Clair charged down the right channel but Japhet Tanganga covered enough ground to block St Clair’s strike before another short corner found its way to Maddox on the edge of the box, the midfielder’s drive diverted from danger.

Spurs restored parity with their first opportunity of note after 11 minutes of action. Marcus Edwards played forward to find Harrison’s run in behind and the striker, a familiar foe for our youngsters, struck low and inside the near post via a deflection from Chalobah. It was his 15th goal against us in just seven matches.

The momentum of the contest then swung in favour of the hosts, who went close with a free-kick from Edwards that curled narrowly wide before Lamela’s rising drive was tipped behind courtesy of an excellent save from Cumming.

Two good technical teams continued to carve out opportunities down both ends. Hudson-Odoi bent an effort just beyond the far post and Maddox couldn’t stretch quite enough to make decent contact from 15 yards out, both following St Clair’s supply from the right flank. On the opposite wing, Hudson-Odoi’s influence slowly grew and a dangerous inswinging centre narrowly evaded the lurking Taylor-Crossdale.

Lamela and Edwards were knitting play together neatly for Spurs in the final third, combining for Shilow Tracey to take aim from distance, though Cumming was watchful and held the powerful effort down low as it skimmed off the greasy turf.
Before the break, both sides had sights at goal that ought to have been capitalised upon. Hudson-Odoi (pictured left) demonstrated his quick footwork in tight areas to skip to the byline and cut the ball back invitingly into the box, though St Clair’s left-footed shot was expertly turned away on the line by Keanan Bennetts. Tracey then advanced threateningly towards goal but was thwarted by impressive defending from James, who resisted the urge to dive in and shepherded the winger away from danger.

It took six minutes longer for the visitors to net in the second period than it had in the first, though another bright opening paid due dividends for Edwards’s side. Hudson-Odoi flashed the ball dangerously across the face of goal moments before St Clair turned provider from the right. The wideman’s perfect cross found Taylor-Crossdale at the front post and the striker headed decisively beyond goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman for his third goal in the last two PL2 outings.

The rain came down with more intensity after the restart and the Blues settled into a useful 20-minute spell of uneventfulness. They continued to press from the front as Spurs attempted to play out from the back, cutting the home side’s threat at source and often turning over possession in advanced areas.

James advanced from full-back and latched on to Taylor-Crossdale’s square pass, firing over as the ball bounced up invitingly for him to strike, while St Clair crossed again for Taylor-Crossdale, whose header this time had too much height to test Whiteman.

Without a killer third goal approaching the final 15 minutes, there was also a danger that Tottenham would snatch two points from the grasp of the Blues, just as Arsenal had with a 90th-minute equaliser last time out. A lovely move from back to front carved open the hosts as Cumming clipped a ball to the left for Grant to flick on and Hudson-Odoi advanced. The forward found St Clair in support but our Scotland youth international was denied with a crucial block.

Substitute McCormick brought energy and passion to midfield, drilling a low shot straight at the keeper before charging forward to support a counter-attack. St Clair had released Hudson-Odoi down the right and the forward rolled a pass into the centre for McCormick, who made first contact but was clattered by Whiteman. The ball rolled wide and the referee pulled it back to award a penalty, which was confidently dispatched by Hudson-Odoi.
There was still time remaining for Spurs to pull a goal back, Sterling’s looping header dropping over Cumming and the jumping Clarke-Salter to nestle in the far corner, but it proved too little, too late for the home side. Edwards and his players punched the air in celebration and relief at the final whistle, a first victory since August ending a difficult winless period.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Jamie Cumming; Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah, Jake Clarke-Salter (c), Josh Grant; Ruben Sammut, Kyle Scott; Harvey St Clair, Jacob Maddox (Luke McCormick 67), Callum Hudson-Odoi; Martell Taylor-Crossdale (Cole Dasilva 88)
Unused subs Joseph Colley, Marcin Bulka, Kylian Hazard
Scorers Taylor-Crossdale 2, 53; Hudson-Odoi (pen) 90+2
Booked Chalobah 15; Sammut 79

Tottenham Alfie Whiteman, George Marsh, Keanan Bennetts (Christian Maghoma 62), Oliver Skipp, Japhet Tanganga, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Shilow Tracey, Luke Amos (c), Shayon Harrison, Marcus Edwards (Kazaiah Sterling 75), Erik Lamela (Joe Pritchard 60)
Unused subs
Charlie Austin, Ryan Loft
Scorers Harrison 11; Sterling 90+4
Booked Pritchard 62; Whiteman 90+1
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Saturday, 18 November 2017

U18 Premier League Match Report - Chelsea 1 Brighton 0

Chelsea 1 Brighton 0
Our Under-18s took their time to break down a resilient Brighton side but a wonderful free-kick from Billy Gilmour (pictured above) 10 minutes from time sealed the league points for Jody Morris’s men.

Marc Guehi’s header hit the bar and Charlie Brown’s penalty kick was saved in the first period, with Guehi also having to clear off his line after a rare attacking foray from the visitors. It was a frustrating evening at a clear and cold Cobham for the hosts as it looked like a breakthrough goal would evade them, though Gilmour’s brilliant bending finish late on ensured the league leaders claimed a deserved full complement of the points.

Morris made three changes from the side that were 3-0 winners at Brighton in the Under-18 Premier League Cup a fortnight previously, with goalkeeper Nicolas Tie, Marcel Lavinier and Jon Russell returning to the side.
The Seagulls had just two alterations to their team and arrived at Cobham keen to make amends for a painful previous visit in which they were beaten 13-0 back in February. Morris conceded in the build-up how that was a freak result and warned his side to be wary of Brighton’s qualities, though it was the hosts who made a bright start in the opening five minutes.

Brown was heavily involved up front, heading an inswinging George McEachran corner off-target before racing clear through the middle but dragging his finish just wide. A clever run off the defender’s shoulder moments later fashioned another sight at goal following Conor Gallagher’s forward pass and the visiting goalkeeper got his timing badly wrong as he took the striker down with his attempt to play the ball.

It was the clearest of penalty decisions for the referee but far from decisive contact from 12 yards as Tom McGill made amends and pushed Brown's effort to safety down low to his right. From the following corner, Guehi rose highest in the middle and directed a header towards goal but saw his effort clip the top of the crossbar and bounce behind.

Brighton’s early attacking intent was minimal, with Tariq Lamptey’s flicked header away at the back post the only notable defending required of the hosts in the first half hour. Brown continued to pose our biggest threat, bringing down a high ball with super control, though his lobbed finish dropped just wide.

The Blues soon lost their early impetus in the face of resistant defending from the visitors, whose best chance was fashioned by Mamadou Kone delivering from the left and Isaac Hutchinson volleying harmlessly over Tie’s bar.
Down the other end, Guehi poked wide after Brighton failed to clear a corner and both Gallagher then McEachran brought routine stops from McGill. Gallagher continued to drive the team from midfield, charging forward and exchanging passes with Daishawn Redan but his shot lacked the accuracy to trouble the goalkeeper.

Another of our England Under-17 World Cup winners made a telling contribution right before the break as Ian Buckman’s side threatened to strike first. Hutchinson delivered a deep cross towards Stefan Ljubicic at the far post and the big striker nodded back across goal, though Guehi read the danger and was well-positioned to clear from the goal-line.

Morris made tactical and personnel adjustments at the interval, swapping Juan Castillo for Brown and switching to a 3-4-2-1 shape. The game’s momentum remained with the Blues, who controlled possession and continued to probe in the attacking third. Gilmour swung in a free-kick but Guehi’s header was an easy catch for McGill, while Lavinier latched on to a loose ball in the box but smashed a strike a whisker wide.

Frustration grew as the half progressed without a breakthrough for the hosts. McEachran curled a deflected effort wide after Redan and Gilmour failed to get their close-range shots away, while the Seagulls flew under the radar in an attacking sense, offering little in the way of a final third threat.
Schoolboy Tino Anjorin was introduced with 25 minutes remaining and it was his burst forward that earned a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the box. Gilmour had proved his danger from similar positions in previous games and the Scottish midfielder did not fail to produce when required, bending a brilliant effort over the wall and inside the near post.

It was no less than the dominant home side deserved for their efforts. Teddy Hoare fired a speculative attempt wide and Gallagher went close to doubling the advantage late on with a curling, dipping strike from 20 yards but the solitary goal was enough to secure the three league points, extending our lead at the southern section summit to eight.

Chelsea (4-diamond-2) Nicolas Tie; Tariq Lamptey, Marc Guehi, Marcel Lavinier, Jon Panzo; Jonathan Russell (Tino Anjorin 66), Billy Gilmour, Conor Gallagher (c), George McEachran; Daishawn Redan, Charlie Brown (Juan Castillo h/t)
Unused subs Renedi Masampu, Karlo Ziger, Clinton Mola
Scorer Gilmour 80
Booked Gallagher

Brighton Tom McGill, Hamish Morrison, Mamadou Kone, Tareq Shihab, Ben Clark-Eden, Hayden Roberts, Isaac Hutchinson, Jordan Araujo (Teddy Hoare 64), Stefan Ljubicic (Charlie Ferguson 78), Dan Cashman (Ryan Longman 67), Alex Cochrane
Unused subs
Cameron Tutt, George Bentley

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Thursday, 16 November 2017

UEFA Women's Champions League Match Report - Rosengard 0 Chelsea 1

Bayern Munich 2 Chelsea 1 (Chelsea win with agg. 0-4)
Chelsea Ladies are in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Champions League for the first time after Ji So-Yun’s goal made it two wins out of two against Rosengard.

The Blues had done much of the hard work in the first leg and they finished the job off in style tonight with another convincing victory against the third-ranked team in Europe.

Chelsea had chances throughout but one goal was enough in the end, Ji the scorer following some fine individual work by Crystal Dunn.

This was another outstanding collective performance, though, and when European football resumes next year Emma Hayes’s side will be full of confidence having already knocked out two of the best teams in the competition.

The draw for both the quarter-finals and the semi-finals is on November 24, with the last eight matches themselves taking place in the final week of March.

Hayes opted to make a single change to the team that had won so convincingly in Kingston a week ago, bringing in Erin Cuthbert for Fran Kirby up front.
Our hosts also mixed things up in attack, with German striker Anja Mittag, the all-time UEFA women’s club competition scorer, selected to lead the Rosengard line.

The Blues started brightly on a cold night at the Malmo IP Stadium. Inside the opening 90 seconds, Ji bent a curling effort a fraction wide of the far post after good work from Ramona Bachmann, and it epitomised a confident first 10 minutes during which the Blues forced Rosengard onto the back foot.

The Swedish side would have wanted an early goal to try and get a foothold in the tie and they nearly got it at the end of a flowing move down our right, but thankfully for us Sanne Troelsgaard fired wide after Ali Riley had squared invitingly.

Cuthbert was proving a willing runner and when she was felled 25 yards out, Ji stepped up and brought a diving save out of Zecira Musovic between the Rosengard posts. From the resulting corner, played short, the keeper had to turn Bachmann’s dangerous, deep cross over the bar.
Chelsea chances kept coming before the midway point of the half had even been reached. Cuthbert and Bachmann combined to tee up Mjelde, who skewed her left-footed shot well off target, and shortly after, Ji’s goalbound effort was blocked.

On 33 minutes, with the game now evenly balanced, an unmarked Gilly Flaherty headed another well-worked corner wide.

It proved the final clear opportunity of a half the Blues had certainly had the better of, and we could perhaps count ourselves unfortunate not to be further ahead in the tie.

As it turned out, we didn’t have to wait long to take the advantage on the night and all but put the tie to bed.

The goal owed much to the pace and skill of Crystal Dunn, who tricked her way past her marker and into the box before finding Ji. The South Korean’s first-time finish took a slight deflection off Glodis Viggosdottir, which helped it past Musovic.

Rosengard now needed to score five but it remained the Blues who looked more likely. Bachmann blasted a whisker wide a couple of minutes after Ji’s goal, and Mjelde’s clever header drew Musovic into action again.

There followed a couple of minor scares for Hayes’s side but as has been the case for so much of this European, and indeed domestic, campaign, the defence held firm and picked up another clean sheet.

Bachmann had shone against her former club and it needed a good save from Musovic to deny the Swiss star from a similar position in which she had scored in the first leg.

On 75 minutes, Mjelde passed up two glorious opportunities to add her name to the scoresheet, first heading a free-kick over, and then finding herself one-on-one but thwarted by the busy Musovic.
The keeper tipped over a rising Kirby drive shortly after the former Reading striker had come on for Katie Chapman, but by now it was incidental with the job well and truly done.

All that was left to do was to celebrate another landmark achievement in Chelsea Ladies’ history.

Chelsea Lindahl; Bright, Flaherty, Eriksson; Thorisdottir (Blundell 62), Chapman (c) (Kirby 78), Mjelde, Ji, Dunn; Cuthbert (Carney 69), Bachmann.
Unused subs Telford, Rafferty, Spence, Aluko.
Scorer Ji 53
Booked Bachmann 67

Rosengard Musovic; Sorensen, Asante, Viggosdottir, Riley; Folkesson, Seger (c), Wieder; Troelsgaard (Hellstrom 78), Mittag, Landeka.
Unused subs McLeod, Sundqvist, Svensson, Torisson, Filekovic, Lyberg.

Referee Esther Staubli from Switzerland

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Monday, 13 November 2017

FA WSL Match Report - Reading 2 Chelsea 2

Reading 2 Chelsea 2
Goals from Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko helped the Blues come from behind against Reading, but a stoppage-time leveller for the Royals ended our flawless start to the WSL1 campaign.
The Blues recovered from the novelty of trailing in the league for the first time so far this term and looked to be heading for a fifth straight victory in the WSL1. Fresh from her decisive contribution last weekend, Carney found the equaliser from another flawless set-piece, before Aluko netted her fifth goal of the season to put us ahead. However, an own goal from Magda Eriksson deep into injury time ensured it was only a point for the Blues.
Emma Hayes made limited changes to her line-up for what promised to be a demanding league encounter, though sandwiched in the middle of our Champions League round-of-16 tie against Rosengard. Gemma Davison was one of three English players back in the starting XI, replacing Crystal Dunn having appeared from the bench in our previous two games.
Drew Spence and Carney also returned to the side. Spence led the line alongside Fran Kirby in place of Ramona Bachmann, while Carney, who scored a stoppage-time penalty to earn us three points at Bristol, came in for Ji So-Yun and operated in a free role behind the front two.
Both Reading and Chelsea, playing in our third kit, wore poppies on their shirts and took part in a minute’s silence before the match to honour Remembrance Sunday.
The opening exchanges set the pattern for the rest of the match, with Chelsea preferring to play out from the back and dominating possession. Meanwhile, Reading pressed us high up the pitch and searched for direct passes into their attackers whenever they won the ball.
Spence forced a decent save from Mary Earps within the first five minutes thanks to some tenacious play inside the penalty area. The Blues No 24 fought hard to forge a yard of space and test the goalkeeper with a low, left-footed strike across goal, albeit at a tight angle.
Kirby was next to challenge her England colleague. A perfectly weighted pass from Davison put her through on goal, but an onrushing Earps quickly snuffed out her dipped finish. We had another chance to go a goal to the good shortly afterwards when Davison decided to cut inside herself on this occasion and launched a piledriver narrowly over the crossbar.
Reading threatened for the first time after 13 minutes as Fara Williams, who scored the winner for the Royals straight from the kick-off against Arsenal last Sunday, unleashed a characteristic long-range effort towards Hedvig Lindahl but her volley was off target.
Carney delivered a peach of a cross towards Spence as we approached the half-hour mark but the experienced defender Jo Potter managed to get her head to it first. Katie Chapman followed up moments later with a powerful shot from 30 yards, but the WSL1 leaders were beginning to look a little frustrated in the face of disciplined defending from the hosts.
We conceded our first goal of the league campaign on 35 minutes after failing to clear a speculative ball into the box. A punched attempt by Lindahl ultimately fell to Williams, who left Remi Allen with a simple finish after supplying her late run with a smart backheel.
Chelsea responded with intent in the second half as Dunn replaced Maria Thorisdottir in an attacking substitution. Kirby burst into the Reading box a couple of times after the kick-off but her crosses did not quite produce clear-cut opportunities against her former club.
The Blues eventually found our equaliser on 56 minutes through a pinpoint free-kick by Carney. Our wily winger had earned the chance herself in a dangerous position on the edge of the 18-yard box, curling a corker of a strike over the wall and smoothly past Earps.
The match briefly resembled a kicking contest as Williams struck the woodwork from a similar position at the other end. Chelsea regained the ascendancy, though, and Spence gave herself a good opening on the counter-attack before seeing her shot well saved.
Kirby came close for the visitors using her typical close control to weave her way into the area. Spence was again lurking in front of goal, ready to seize the rebound, and it took some wonderful defending by Harriet Scott to turn away a left-footed shot from the former.
Reading were prepared to put their bodies on the line several more times, Kirsty Pearce denying Kirby a tap-in and preventing Davison from capitalising on a positive run down the right wing. Still level with 20 minutes remaining, the game was hanging on a thread.
However, the Blues took the lead for the first time and it was a superbly worked goal featuring a patient build-up and then a wonderful finish at the decisive moment, as Aluko struck firmly into the far corner from the edge of the box to give us the advantage.
It looked to be enough to secure a fifth win out of five in the WSL1 as Reading saw two clear-cut opportunities kept out by Lindahl, but there was one final twist in stoppage time as a hopeful free-kick into the box was headed past her own goalkeeper by Eriksson.
The next task for Chelsea Ladies is to protect our three-goal advantage against Rosengard on Wednesday night as we aim to reach our first-ever European quarter-final. The second leg in Malmö kicks off at 5.30pm (UK time), with live coverage available via Chelsea TV or our YouTube channel, and is the last fixture ahead of the November international break.

Reading Earps, Scott (Jane 81), Williams (Linnett 79), Bartrip, Pearce (c), (Van Den Berg 88), Furness, Allen, Bruton, Chaplen, Potter, Rowe
Unused subs Moloney, Green
Scorers Allen 35, Eriksson OG 90+2
Booked Chaplen, Pearce

Chelsea (3-4-1-2) Lindahl; Bright, Flaherty, Eriksson; Thorisdottir (Dunn 45), Mjelde, Chapman (c), Davison (Blundell 76); Carney; Kirby, Spence (Aluko 66)
Unused subs Spencer, Ji, Cuthbert, Bachmann
Scorers Carney 56, Aluko 75
Booked Thorisdottir, Eriksson

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