Hayes: Mjelde’s blood is ice blue and James told me she was fouled for the penalty, she does not lie
By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 1 v Lyon 2 (2-2 AET - Chelsea won 4-3 on penalties)
Absolute mayhem - Stamford Bridge has never seen anything like it in years as Emma Hayes’ side incredibly dug themselves out of the deepest hole they could ever find themselves in to reach the semi-final of the Champions League in a never to be forgotten match.
They were literally one kick away from elimination.
Having surrendered their 1-0 first leg advantage and then going 2-0 behind in extra-time, it looked all over for the tired and seemingly listless Blues.
They needed inspiration from someone - they needed a spot of luck.
Make no mistake they deserved to be on the cusp of elimination.
With seconds left of the two added minutes of extra time, Lauren James crashed to the floor in the Lyon penalty area. Was she fouled, did she dive?
Hayes said: “LJ came over to me and told me she was clipped. She does not lie.”
Gulp it looked inconclusive either way.
Shouts of VAR then echoed round the stadium.
This was only what the fans had had left, hope. Hope that referee Ivan Martincic would see the clip on James’ heel.
Hope that the Croatian had the strength to do the right thing - just hope.
She did, and Chelsea had a chance, a once in a lifetime kick to salvage the tie. Lose it 2-1 but draw 2-2 on aggregate and take the match to the desperation and drama of a penalty shootout.
They would take that any day.
Quite what penalty taker Maren Mjelde’s blood is made of is unknown but I reckon it’s ice.
Hayes confirmed afterwards: “Her blood is blue, ice blue.”
The substitute is the Mother Hen of the squad. A player out of contract at the end of the season, but a player earmarked to end her Chelsea career whenever it comes as an absolute legend.
The ref told all the players to move away from the edge of the area. It would be the last kick of the regulation game.as tension goes, this action ratcheted it up even more - to 11.
Up stepped the Norway defender. She smashed the ball into the back of the net.
The crowd went wild, the Chelsea bench jumped up and down.
Then it dawned, the escape gave way to the penalty shoot-out. Mjelde, Sam Kerr and Jessie Fleming dispatched theirs with ferocity.
Ann-Karin Berger saved Lyon’s third.
James then saw her effort saved. The tension see-sawed from high to low.
Carter thumped in the fourth. Lyon needed to score. Berger triumphed again. Cue the celebrations, Cue the PA thumping out of One Step Beyond - and indeed it was one step beyond delirium.
Chelsea are into the semi-final where they will face Barcelona.
But that’s for another day.
Chelsea’s defence came under severe pressure from the start but thankfully Ann-Katrin Berger was on hand to make a goal-saving block.
But on four minutes, centre-back Magda Eriksson made a hash of a clearance. However Signe Bruun panicked and sliced a free option on goal over the Chelsea crossbar.
The home side’s first chance on 15 minutes should have seen them take the lead, when a break from Lauren James saw her slide the ball perfectly to Sam Kerr, who outpaced the Lyon rearguard.
But goalkeeper Christian’s Endler came out swiftly to block the angle and Kerr obliged by firing a low right-footer straight at the stopper.
It was the turn of Vanessa Gilles to have a header inch wide of Berger’s right post on 20 minutes as the French outfit piled on the pressure.
A weaving wandering James on the left, almost produced a sensational goal, but her angled shot was tipped over the crossbar by Endler.
Chances were few and far between for Chelsea and when they get one, it’s got to go in. Meanwhile Leupolz was next on the guilty line when she sliced an effort from the edge of the Lyon area wide and high of Gil on 25 minutes.
Gradually the pressure eased a bit and Chelsea edged closer to Lyon’s goal.
A succession of corners a clear, albeit not resulting in a goal indicator.
Lyon brought on ace striker Ada Hegerberg at half-time - Bruun stayed in the changing room.
Chelsea started to play too deep allowing Lyon the almost freedom to build up attacks at will.
This, added to the French side’s increasing aggressive stance, started to rattle the home side.
Leupolz felt the arm of Gilles across her face, suffering a bloodied nose in the process.
Sophie Ingle who had been warming up for 10 minutes in anticipation of replacing the tiring German finally did so on 71 minutes.
She was quickly followed by Eve Perisset who had been holding the her right side and she dropped to the floor, indicating she couldn’t continue - on came Maren Mjelde two minutes later.
But just three minutes later, Jess Carter failed to close down Lindsay Horan and her byline cross was trucked home by Gilles at the near post as she nipped in front of Eriksson.
That put the tie level on aggregate.
The crowd started to be galvanised as Erin Cuthbert showed legal aggression of her own. This gave the home side some impetus as they sought a leveller that would put them through.
But the clock ticked on and seven minutes were held up by the fourth official.
Lyon looked the more likely to score.
The Blues looked tired and lifeless - without the desire or legs to push forward for one last attack, hoping that someone else would provide the inspirational moment.
That would have to happen in extra-time.
Hayes brought on a fresh pair of legs in Johanna Rytting Kaneryd - Reiten made way.
Neither side could fashion a chance worthy of the name in the first period of extra time.
But in the 110th minute, Lyon struck.
Again the Chelsea defence was pierced on their left. The ball was knocked across the area.
Eriksson missed it, Buchanan missed it. But substitute Sara Dabritz didn’t. And although her left footer was scuffed, it still had an angle that saw the ball drift past Berger and into the back of her net.
But sensationally Chelsea struck a seam of goal and it was James who chiselled it out of the ground.
She was upended in the penalty area in the final second of the final minute of added time.
After minutes of deliberation, referee Martincic, after consulting the monitor pointed to the spot.
After another couple of minutes, Mjelde was finally able to put the ball on the spot and ram the goal home that levelled the tie and took it to a penalty shootout where after a James miss, Berger became the hero with two save that propelled the Blues into the semi-final.
Renard 3-2 saved by Berger
James 3-2 saved by Endler
Horan 4-3 saved
Chelsea win 4-23
Teams: Chelsea: Berger, Carter, Leupolz, James, Reiten, Perisset, Eriksson, Kerr, Charles, Cuthbert, Buchanan
Subs: Musovic, Orman, Ingle, Fleming, Mjelde, Rytting Kaneryd, Abdullina, Cankovic
Lyon: Endler, Renard, Bacha, Majri, Egurrola, Carpenter, Van de Don, Cascarino, Gilles, Bruun Horan
Subs: Belhadj, Bosse, Morroni, Dabritz, Le Sommer, Marozsan, Hegerberg, Sombath, Cayman Benyahia, Becho Malard.
Referee: Ivan’s Martincic (Croatia)