‘We’re exactly where we want to be’

Photo: James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

The manager of Chelsea Women, Emma Hayes, has expressed satisfaction with her team’s performance after they secured a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Chelsea beat Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge, with a scoreline of 2-1. Guro Reiten gave Chelsea the lead from the penalty spot, followed by a quick equalizer from Real Madrid. However, Chelsea soon regained the lead due to an own goal caused by Erin Cuthbert’s cross.

Hayes acknowledged that it wasn’t Chelsea’s most spectacular performance but was pleased with the victory over a top European side, which ensured Chelsea’s progression as group winners.

She noted the challenges in breaking down a team like Real Madrid, which played with a compact and counter-attacking strategy. The introduction of Lauren James in the second half was highlighted as a positive change, adding more movement to the team.

Hayes also expressed her gratitude to the supporters, with over 11,000 fans present at the match. She looked forward to potentially playing an exciting tie in the next round and hoped to attract even more fans to support the team.

“To qualify with a game to go in a tough group is exactly where we want to be,” said Hayes. “I didn’t think it was a scintillating performance but you have them sometimes.

“We played against a team that sat really low and compact and looked to hit on the counter, so we had a lot of the ball. Breaking them down was tough because of that reason.

“Bringing on Lauren [James] at half-time really helped, there was a bit more movement, but also we’ve got a games accumulation at the minute and I thought we looked a little laboured in what we did.

“But I think when it was time to go up another level we did that in the right moments.”

“Thank you for being here, we felt your presence,” she added. “Hopefully we get the chance to play a really nice tie in the next round. We’ve qualified, we know that much, but whoever we play hopefully we can build on these numbers and pack this place out.”