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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge

Ramirez gets the goal that gave lacklustre Blues a 1-1 draw in a drab Champions League encounter at the Bridge

Action from Chelsea v Ajax Picture by Paul Lagan
Action from Chelsea v Ajax Picture by Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea 1 v Ajax 1

As Champions League nights under the lights go, this one won't be in the memory banks for many, for long. A drab 1-1 draw with Ajax at the Bridge saw the Blues safety through to the semi-final stage, where it's almost certain they will face old adversary Barcelona for a trip to Bilbao in the final in May.

Mayra Ramirez got the goal that gave the west Londoners an unassailable 4-0 lead – substitute Chasity Grant levelled the match, and gave the Dutch outfit and their 45-strong travelling fans a bit of respectability to take home with them.

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes will have fulfilled a major task tonight in getting minutes in the legs of Ramirez, Fran Kirby and Catarina Macario.

The result really was secondary.

Ajax, desperate to get an early goal to put a dent into Chelsea's 3-0 first leg advantage had the first chance on three minutes when Sherida Spitse got her head to the ball from a deep corner, but her looping effort dropped on top of Zecira Musovic's net.

Excellent work by Aggie Beever-Jones on nine minutes, almost reaped dividends when her right byline cutback was met by a low right-foot drive by Kirby, but the attacking midfielder's effort inched just wide of Regina van Eljk's left post.

Chelsea struck lucky on two quick occasions, firstly Romee Leuchter, saw a low, drive, trickle past Musovic and then seconds later the goalkeeper clattered a clearance into the body of Tiny Hoekstra and the ball appeared to be heading goal-bound, but instead tickled the foot of the post for a goal kick.

 It was rapidly becoming a tale of missed chances as on 23 minutes, inspired by a mazy across the edge of the penalty area run by Beever-Jones, the ball fell to Guro Reiten on the left and she thumped a left-footed rasper that, once again went just wide of the goal.

It was Beever-Jones' turn to miss on 26 minutes after she was set up by Ramirez. The tricky Carshalton-born winger took the ball on, was set for a one to one with the goalie, but lost track of the ball and it was quickly cleared.

The inevitable happened on 33 minutes – once again a quick break out fashioned by Reiten's left peg cut the Ajax defence apart. This time Ramirez was calm, cool and experienced enough to not panic and slotted home from close range to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.

Ramirez proved she is human after all, when she missed a sitter on 42 minutes – set up again by Beever-Jones, the Colombian sliced wide when it was easier to tuck home.

There were no changes by either side at half-time.

No much occurred for the opening period of the restart.

Both sides already knew the outcome, all that was left was a consolation goal from Ajax and some vital minutes in the legs of a few Chelsea players, hoping to make the starting 11 for the Conti Cup final on Sunday against Arsenal.

Musovic will have not done her chances of ousting Hannah Hampton from between the sticks any good on 65 minutes when she let the ball slip through her body from a shot by Grant from the edge of the Chelsea area.

One of these hoping to give Hayes a selection headache is American Macario, and she came off the bench, along with Jelena Cankovic and Sjoeke Nusken on 66 minutes - off went Reiten, Buchanan, and Ramirez..

They were soon joined by Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, Beever-Jones can be well pleased with her 76 minutes on the pitch.

Musovic produced the save of the match, parrying away from goal a fine strike by substitute Lotte Keukelaar.

She repeated it soon after, in fact it was marginally better to thwart another substitute Danique Tolhoek with a couple of minutes left on the clock.

Teams: Chelsea: Musovic, Ingle, Carter, Reiten, Lawrence, Kirby, Perisset, Cuthbert, Buchanan, Beever-Jones, Ramirez

Subs: Hampton, Berger, Nusken, Leupolz, Macario, James, Rytting Kaneryd, Charles, Cankovic

Ajax: Van Eljk, Van de Velde, Leuchter, Spitse, Noordam, Grant, Hoekstra, Van Gool, De Klonia, De Sanders, Kardinaal

Subs: Nienhuis, Van de Wal, Verhoeve, Hoekstra, Noordman, Jansen, Keijzer, Sabajo, Keukelaar, Tolhoek

Referee: Tess Olofsson (Sweden)


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