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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge

Reiten and Cuthbert put Madrid to the sword as Chelsea reach quarter-final of Champions League with 2-1 win

Action from Chelsea v Real Madrid Picture: Paul Lagan
Action from Chelsea v Real Madrid Picture: Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea 2 v Real Madrid 1


Chelsea are through to the quarter finals of the Champions League after the 2-1 defeat of Real Madrid saw the west Londoners top group D.

But it wasn't one of those glorious exciting fan-fuelled occasions under the Stamford Bridge floodlights.

It was a hard watch for the 11,262 fans – Real Madrid failed to sell a single ticket to their fans.

Reasons for that can be established for another day, but it's a confirmation that away support however meagre adds to the match experience.

And it could even have affected the home players – such was the lack of clarity on the pitch and high degree of tempo one normally associates with the Blues.

The goals were a long time coming too – a second-half penalty from Guro Reiten and a typically bullish and determined Erin Cuthbert forced home a second a minute after conceding an equaliser.

But it's progression that is the prime objective and the likes of Barcelona, Lyon and possibly PSG await.

As expected the home side started on the front foot, hoping to take charge of the game with an early goal.

On five minutes, Cuthbert, skipper for the night, had the first shot on goal – a clipped left-footer from the right angle of the six-yard box, but her effort was hacked away by Mylene Chavas.

Chelsea's Achilles heel in elite matches has been the vulnerability of their back four when exposed to a counter attack.

And this was demonstrated early as Madrid foraged on the right, and the drive by Haley Raso caused confusion in the Blues rearguard. Melanie Leupolz was thankfully on hand to sort out a clearance.

A cross or was it a shot by Reiten on 12 minutes saw the ball looping into the far corner of the net, but Chavas managed to scoop the ball away for a corner.

Another counter by Madrid, again exposed their left flank, with Niamh Charles struggling to cope. Thankfully Hannah Hampton was alert enough to smother the effort of Linda Caicedo.

Ashley Lawrence hacked off the line a low drive from Maite Oroz as the Blues struggled once again at the back, giving away two quick corners, the second resulting in the saved goal-bound effort on 24 minutes.

Hampton again saved the Blues on 28 minutes as she got her body in the way of a near post effort from Caicedo.

Between Reiten and Cuthbert – the Blues should have taken the lead on 37 minutes, both had chances to shoot, both opted to take an extra touch, both failed to get the ball on target.

Cuthbert got the message four minutes from time, but her edge of the penalty area daisy-cutter was well held by Chavas.

Hayes opted to bring on Lauren James at half time for the ineffectual Mia Fishel.

Kirby was unlucky to see her glancing header inch past the left hand upright on 54 minutes and Chelsea again attempted to start a half on the front foot.

On the hour and a stroke of luck – a penalty.

Building up from the left saw Charles inch inside the area and she was upended by Raso.

Up stepped Reiten who coolly slotted home a deft left-footer past Chavas to open the scoring.

But the visitors did not falter and kept to their game plan and were rewarded for an excellent break which saw the Blues easily opened up.

The ball was fed to the byline and Hampton could only parry the ball into the path of in-running substitute Athenea, who tucked home.

But incredibly the Blues were back in the lead seconds later on 70 minutes when Cuthbert saw her byline cross shot take a little defection, and Chavas could not react quick enough and the ball slipped past her.

Hayes then decided to bring on a couple of fresh legs in Aggie Beever-Jones and Sjoeke Nusken – off went Rytting Kaneryd and Kirby.

As a match it won't live long in the memory banks – but it's where it leads that matters and for Chelsea it progression in the Champions League – for Madrid it's the ignominy of propping up the group.

Teams: Chelsea: Hampton, Fishel, Carter, Leupolz, Reiten, Lawrence, Kirby, Rytting Kaneryd, Charles, Cuthbert, Buchanan

Subs: Musovic, Ingle, Nusken, James, Perisset, Mjelde, Cankovic, Beever-Jones

Real Madrid:Chavas, Rob les, Teresa, Ivan, Oroz, Kathellen, Raso, Moller, Caicedo, Zornoza, Svava

Subs: Misa, Tellez, Oihane, Feller, Athenea, Olofsson, Olaya, Lopez, Pau

Referee: Catarina Campos (Portugal)


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