Blues close to semi-final after 2-1 win over Wolfsburg in Champions League quarter-final 1st leg
By Paul Lagan
Chelsea 2 v Wolfsburg 1
Pernille Harder has put Chelsea a step closer to the semi-final of the Champions League with the goal that beat German champions Wolfsburg 2-1 in a tight quarter-final first leg played in Budapest - but the Londoners can count themselves lucky still to be in contention.
After a goalless first 45 minutes which the German’s totally dominated and who should have scored three goals at least, the west Londoners took a two-goal lead through Sam Kerr and Harder.
But a sloppy penalty given away by skipper Magda Eriksson allowed the away side to score from the spot kick which will increase the tension when the sides return to the same stadium for Chelsea’s away leg next week.
The opening stages were nip and tuck with neither side quite nailing their passes. Pernille Harder almost took advantage of a sloppy bit of play by the Germans on 12 minutes but Wolfsburg's goalkeeper Kiedrzynek managed to nick the ball before Harder could latch onto the loose ball.
Pajor should have scored two minutes later, when they were exposed on the left and the byline cross was met by Ewa Pajor but the striker’s volley smacked off the post and was cleared.
Alexandra Popp was given a yellow card for handling the ball into the Chelsea net two minutes later.
Doorsoun was next in the ref’s book for a late and clumsy lunge on Melanie Leupolz.
Ann-Karin Berger then produced two magnificent saves after Millie Bright’s error allowed Rolfo to race clear. Berger stopped the ball twice before Jonna Andersson headed the ball clear off the line.
Rolfo then had a free header inch wide of Berger’s left post on 33 minutes as the west Londoners clung onto their clean sheet.
Another error by Bright - a poor back header saw Rolfo nip in but thankfully Berger was on top form and managed to created a wall and the ball bounced off her and was cleared.
There were no changes from either side at half-time.
Within four minutes of the restart, the German’s rattled the woodwork again as Chelsea survived the early onslaught.
Chelsea’s inability to string passes together and cheaply give the ball away have allowed the visitors to totally dominate the match.
Incredibly, and against the run of play, Chelsea took the lead on 55 minutes. Ji and Kirby combined to set up Kerr, who took the ball around the goalkeeper and, from a tight angle, smashed the ball into the far side-netting.
Berger was in super-human form to thwart the German’s when she deflected Rolfo’s close-range volley over her crossbar on 62 minutes.
Then four minutes later, Kirby latched onto a sloppy kick-out by Kiedrzynek. She slide the ball to Kerr who tapped it on to Harder, who took one touch before slotting home a cooly taken right-footer to double the hime side’s lead.
Skipper Magda Eriksson then gave away the simplest of penalties on 70 minutes. Up stepped Janssen to thump home a crucial way goal to halve the deficit.
Emma Hayes decided to bring on Erin Cuthbert for Ji with 17 minutes left on the clock.
She was quickly rolled by Guro Reiten who took Kirby’s place.
Chelsea hung onto their lead thanks to a last-gasp save by Chelsea player of the match Berger who already playing with an injury was completely taken out by Popp.
Hayes was given a yellow card for her dissent over the decision not to issue a second yellow card for Popp’s challenge.
Chelsea return to WSL action on Sunday when they face Aston Villa.
Berger, Charles, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson, Harder, Ingle, Ji, Leupolz, Kerr, Kirby
Subs: Musovic, Telford, Blundell, Carter, Reiten, Fleming, Cuthbert, Spence, Fox, Beevers-Jones
Wolfsburg: Kiedrzynek, Hendrick, Oberdorf, Janssen, Hugh, Popp, Rauch, Rolfo, Engender, Pajor, Doorsoun
Schultz, Abt, Jakabfi, Blasse, Blomqvist, Saevik, Svava, Walter, Dickenmann, Van De Sanden, Wedemyer, Goessling