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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge

Hayes: I’m happy we are still in the tie

Emma Hayes, centre. Picture by Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes is putting on a brave and positive face as she looks to overturn a 1-0 deficit against European Champions Barcelona on Thursday.

Her charges lost at home to the Catalan giants in the first leg of the semi-final, to a Graham Hansen stunner, a result of a ‘quick free kick’ suggest Hayes, and now need a Herculean performance and result in the Nou Camp.

Hayes said: “It was a disappointing start. We grew into the game, Barcelona area great side.

Hayes is grateful,that her defensively-depleted squad held firm for the most part.

Losing Millie Bright who limped round the dugout on crutches and her Centre-back partner Kadeisha Buchanan as well as long-term injured striker Fran Kirby hampered the Blues ability to go toe to tow with the Spanish outfit - something they won’t be now to do in the second leg either.

But Hayes is defiant: “We have to be perfect to beat these sides,” she said.

“I’m grateful to still be in the tie after 25 minutes, We have to prepare this week for the game and it’s important we learn (from today).

‘For us, the first 10 minutes were the problem, but the back three can be proud of their performance.”

It’s up front where Hayes will be looking coward a sea-change in fortunes.

She cited Guro Reiten’s effort that was cleared, and must have wished Sam Kerr had held her line and not drifted offside when she also set up Reiten to put the ball in the back of the net/

“We had a deliberate plan to go forward,” she said.

“We missed the first pass too often.

“We are disappointed with our forward play but we will work on it. I’m just happy to still be in the tie.”

Striker Pernille Harder returned to play the final few minutes, but won’t start on Thursday.

Hayes said of the Norway forward who injured her hamstring on international duty in November: “Pernille is not fit to start. She’s good for 10 to 15 minutes at best.”

Barcelona boss Jonathan Giraldez, pictured above said: I’m very happy, we dominated from the start.

“When they changed their plans, but we were very calm.

We stopped them at the first effort and controlled the game from there.

It was hard, we played well. It’s still very open.”

England fans gasped when Lioness full bck Lucy Bronze bobbed off the Stamford Bridge pitch, but Giraldez calmed their fears for the defender’s World Cup chances suffering a. Result of the knock.

He said: “Lucy felt something on her knee. But now she is really good now.”


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