Chelsea are through to the semi-finals of the Women’s Champions League following a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over eight-time winners Lyon at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues held a narrow advantage from the first leg thanks to Guro Reiten’s brilliant curling finish but Vanessa Gilles restored parity in the 77th minute and substitute Sara Dabritz thought she had won it for the French side in extra time.
But there was an incredible twist when Chelsea were awarded a penalty in stoppage time of extra time following a lengthy VAR review, and Maren Mjelde showed incredible composure to send the game to spot kicks with the aggregate score at 2-2.
Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger proved the hero, saving penalties from Wendie Renard and Lindsey Horan, as Emma Hayes’ side emerged 4-3 winners.
They will meet Barcelona in the last four.
Lyon had a great opportunity to open the scoring on the night as early as the fourth minute when Magdalena Eriksson’s poor clearance gave Signe Bruun a gilt-edged chance only for the forward to blaze over from point-blank range.
With the French champions taking risks to get back into the contest, Chelsea forward Sam Kerr was played through on goal but saw her effort blocked by the onrushing goalkeeper Christiane Endler.
Chelsea had the better moments in an entertaining first half, with Endler also pulling off a fine fingertip save from Lauren James’ dipping effort.
The visitors were able to call on the competition’s all-time goal scorer Ada Hegerberg at the break, with the striker making her first appearance in Europe since last year’s final.
But Sonia Bompastor’s side were eventually rescued by the most unlikely of players, Canadian defender Gilles who tucked home Horan’s cross with just 13 minutes of normal time remaining.
Lyon’s strength in depth showed when Dabritz’s scruffy finish from Hegerberg’s cross gave Lyon the lead in the tie.
The drama was far from over, however, as the hosts were awarded a penalty when James was fouled by Vicki Becho, with Mjelde showing no sign of nerves to stick it away.
The defender scored again in the shoot-out, with Kerr, Jessie Fleming and Jess Carter also finding the net. James saw her penalty saved but it mattered little thanks to Berger’s heroics.
Talking point – Chelsea’s mentality monsters advance on a night to remember
Just where did Emma Hayes’ side find the strength to win this tie? Falling behind at 2-1 with just minutes remaining, and seemingly out on their feet, it would have taken a very brave punter to put their money on the Blues advancing. With all of Lyon’s know-how in this competition, it seemed impossible that they would go on to lose. But that’s exactly what happened as a rare moment of sloppiness in their own penalty area proved costly.
Berger will take the headlines but Mjelde deserves just as much praise for her bravery and incredible composure. Owing to Lyon’s protests, the Norway international had a lengthy and anxious wait to take her spot-kick that would ultimately be the equaliser. And she stepped up again to set the tone in the shoot-out with the first kick.
‘Mentality monsters’ is how Hayes often describes her players and tonight every single one of them proved her right.
Maren Mjelde celebrates during the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final second leg match between Chelsea and Olympique Lyonnais at Stamford Bridge on March 30, 2023 in London, United Kingdom.
Image credit: Getty Images
Player of the match – Ann-Katrin Berger (Chelsea)
Made two great saves in the shoot-out on a night she will never forget.
Chelsea: Berger 9*, Perisset 7, Buchanan 8, Eriksson 6, Carter 7, Cuthbert 6, Leupolz 7, Reiten 6, James 7, Kerr 6, Charles 6.. subs: Ingle 6, Fleming 6, Mjelde 9, Kaneryd 6.
Lyon: Endler 8, Carpenter 7, Gilles 8, Renard 6, Bacha 7, Egurrola 6, Horan 8, Majri 6, Van de Donk 6, Bruun 5, Cascarino 7. Subs: Morroni 5, Dabritz 8, Hegerberg 6, Becho 7, Malard 5.
77’ – GOAL! CHELSEA 0-1 LYON (AGG 1-1) – VANESSA GILLES: Wow, Lyon are level in the tie! Centre-back Gilles is the unlikely goalscorer, squeezing the ball past Berger from the near post following Horan’s right-flank cross.
110′ – GOAL! CHELSEA 0-2 LYON (AGG 1-2) SARA DABRITZ: Has Dabritz just netted the winner? A cross from the right evades two Chelsea defenders, lands at the feet of the Lyon substitute and she breaks the home side’s hearts with a scruffy finish into the bottom corner.
120’+5 – PENALTY TO CHELSEA! The Blues are demanding a penalty as James goes down under pressure from Becho. The referee initially waves their protests away but now VAR is checking and the referee is going to the monitor! It’s given! Chelsea have a golden chance to level the scores! What drama here at Stamford Bridge!
CHELSEA ARE THROUGH! Horan sees her spot-kick saved by Berger and eight-time winners Lyon are out of the Champions League!
For the first time, Lyon have suffered defeat in England in this competition.
Read the full article here