Chelsea boss Emma Hayes: Bring on Wolfsburg. I just hope I don’t give birth pitch side
Fran Kirby scores her second goal from the penalty spot against Montpellier on Wednesday night Video by Paul Lagan
Top of the WSL 1 division and now into the semi-final of the Champions League for the first time, Chelsea Ladies are providing a necessary antidote to the trials and tribulations suffering Antonio Conte’s men’s side.
The women defeated a tough Montpellier side 3-1 at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday night in front of a record 3,050 crowd winning 5-1 overall on aggregate. They face German side Wolfsburg in the two legged semi in late April.
It’s something that pregnant Chelsea boss Emma Hayes is relishing.
Emma Hayes. Photo Paul Lagan
She said of the side who has dumped the Blues out of the last two Champions League campaigns: “I’m not afraid of them I know my team are not afraid of them. As far as I’m concerned let’s bring it on. I just hope I don’t give birth pitch side.”
Hayes was beaming at the result. She said: “We asked for a fast start. We hadn’t planned to sit off them. Our first two goals early in each half forced them into errors.
“We have got the quality to finish. They executed the game plan better today than they did at the weekend against Reading.
“Physically it was hard. We run more in these fixtures than in any domestic game. That is why the recovery is so challenging for the players. In the second half, we were superb. We made the team more narrow, making it difficult for them to play through us.”
Striker Fran Kirby scored twice and at the back Millie Bright was a key player - Hayes agreed.
“I thought Fran Kirby and Millie Bright were the best two players on the pitch,” she said.
“But it’s a team effort. We believe in the ethics, spirit, and the tactics. When you have that you have all the ingredients to be successful.
“This is a celebration in how much the club has invested. They put a lot of money in but it’s not just that, it’s resources that provide the platform for players to be successful. And we are no longer second class in Europe and that for me what makes these days great. Montpellier are full of internationals, they are not a mediocre side.”
Kirby scored after three minutes and her second goal, Chelsea’s third knocked the stuffing out of the French side.
Kirby said: “It’s pretty incredible for everyone involved.
“We deserved it over the two matches. We were professional in our performance. When they scored, we did not panic.
There are still things I need to improve at. I could have created a little bit more.
Kirby chats post-match to supporters. Photo by Paul Lagan
We are a different team from the one that lost the last two times to Wolfsburg. We are full of confidence, we play good football, we have experience now of the Champions League and it’s going to be a really good game for the neutral.”
Kirby’s opener was pure class. She raced clear of the defence before facing a one v one with Casey Murphy.
She said: “When I was going through for the first goal all I could think of was ‘Don’t miss’.
“I want to be up front pressing high on the pitch, nicking anything I can. When I went one v one, It’s probably every striker’s worst nightmare, when you have so much time on the ball. But I thought keep it low, hit it hard and see what happens. Happily it went in.
“The early goal was really important. We can score for fun. We did not want to sit back and defend the 2-0 first leg lead, we wanted to score and keep going.
“Defensively we knew we could beat any team in the air. We are good in defence and as far as attacking is concerned we can score whether it’s on the counter-attack or looking to play.
“We have a resilience now to see out games too. We have learned from our previous Champions League defeats - when we conceded a goal our mentality was wrong. Now we are in the driving seat and full of confidence.”
Coming up on Sunday is an away trip to Arsenal in the WSL 1. Chelsea are two points ahead of Man City having played a game more.
“We play many games and the standard of the WSL 1 is improving,” said Kirby.
“It doesn’t matter who you play. We have to go to Arsenal at the weekend and that will be difficult as well. But we just want to play football.”