Club director Emma Hayes said Chelsea had learned from “the toughest moments” to ensure a smooth run to the quarter-finals of the Women’s Champions League.
2020-21 Summer Failed to advance from the group stage last season, but a 4-0 win over Vllaznia confirmed their place in this year’s group stage.
Hayes’ side remain unbeaten in the competition and lead Group A with a game remaining after their routine recent win in Albania.
“I wouldn’t say comfort is the right word. We had a chance to wrap up [conversations on] last year. Questions in and around the group stage last year – we don’t have to answer anymore,” said Hayes.
“This team is doing well to learn in its toughest moments. We understand the group stage of this competition and I think we’ve managed to handle them well this season.”
On a damp night in Albania, Wales midfielder Sophie Engel took a 1-0 lead for Chelsea after 12 minutes when she gracefully volleyed into the bottom corner of Guru Ritten’s deflected strike.
Fran Kirby doubled the lead shortly afterwards when she was brought down by Jelena Kanković, who acted quickly and Vllaznia was slow to respond to the free kick.
Substitute Katerina Svetkova headed in a late third goal, before Marin Milde also came off the bench to score from the penalty spot in injury time.
Blues, from beat Vllaznia 8-0 In the reverse fixture in October, the team managed to advance to the knockout stages despite being drawn in a tough group match alongside Spain’s Real Madrid and two-time champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Their qualification was secured with a draw against Vllaznia – and they could have progressed in defeat depending on results elsewhere.
But the already eliminated Albanian team was no match for Chelsea on a damp evening at Loro Borresi, despite much endeavor by the hosts.
“The competition for places will get fiercer.”
Hayes made six changes to the starting line-up and Engel, wearing the captain’s armband, was heavily involved in the first half, hoping to play and scoring a fine opening goal.
The Blues’ defense was rarely tested, and chances continued to slip as Hayes made more changes after the break.
Striker Sam Kerr had a goal ruled out for offside in the second half before finally extending the lead when substitutes Svetkova and Mjeldi added the finishing touches.
It was another display of Chelsea’s increasing depth and Hayes expects competition for places in their side to become “even more fierce” in the new year as summer signings continue to evolve.
Hayes added, “Our depth has always been a strength for us, but the quality in the way we control games now is different than it was in previous years.”
“Having depth means we can train at a higher level. It’s not about rotating matches. It’s about training well and making sure you push the players to a higher level.
“You can have a great team and not necessarily have good quality but we have both [summer signings] It amazed me more and more and I began to see every new player finding their feet.”
Chelsea now go into their final group match against Paris Saint-Germain next Thursday knowing their place in the quarter-finals is already secure.
They joined WSL rivals Arsenal in the quarter-finals after securing qualification on Thursday night despite a narrowly defeated by defending champions Lyon.
formation – formation 4-5-1
- 33Williams Moser
- 30PopovichBooked at 44 minutesreplaced withDavidsonin a 45 ‘Session minutes
- 19GeorgeBooked in 25 minutes
- 10Ramadanreplaced withfoxanin a 89 ‘Session minutes
- 8Kavanaughreplaced withhillin a 81 ‘Session minutes
- 7saddlereplaced withfightersin a 45 ‘Session minutes
- 13Piranha fish
formation – formation 4-3-3
- 15He was going to die
- 26Buchananreplaced withTransferin a 64 ‘Session minutes
- 21Charlesreplaced withCarterin a 75 ‘Session minutes
- 5Engelreplaced withmosquesin a 65 ‘Session minutes
- 14Kirbyreplaced withCanride ridein a 75 ‘Session minutes
- 11Ridingreplaced withSvetkovain a 64 ‘Session minutes
- 19Canride ride
The match ended with Villasnia Vimra 0 and Chelsea Women 4.
The second half ends, Vlaznia Vimra 0, Chelsea Women 4.
Goal! Vllaznia Vimra 0, Chelsea Women 4. Maren Mijeldy (Chelsea Women) converts the penalty kick with a right-footed shot into the center of the goal.
Penalty kick conceded by Sara Malecki (Vllaznia Fiemra) with a handball inside the penalty area.
Switch, female fraternity. Suzanne Foksani replaces Rozuna Ramadan.
Goal! Vllaznia Femra 0, Chelsea Women 3. Katerina Svitková (Chelsea Women) header from close range into the center of the goal. Assisted by Jelena Kanković’s cross after a corner kick.
Attempt saved. Maren Mageldy (Chelsea Ladies) header from the center of the penalty area is saved in the middle of the goal. Assisted by Jelena Kanković with a cross.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Against by Lucije Gjini.
missed attempt. Maren Mageldy (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the center of the box is too high. assisted by Ève Périsset with a cross after a corner kick.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Awarded by Sarah Al-Maliki.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Awarded by Sarah Al-Maliki.
Switch, female fraternity. Arlinda Kudra replaces Megan Cavanaugh.
Jesse Fleming (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Magi Duce (Vllaznia Vimra).
Attempt saved. Lauren James (Chelsea Women) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. With assistance from Yves Periste.
Offside, Vllaznia Vimra. Rrezona Ramadani attempts a through ball, but Ezmiralda Franja is caught offside.
Foul by Jelena Kankovic (Chelsea Women).
Esmeralda Franja (Vllaznia Fiemra) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Alternative, Chelsea Women. Joanna Rating-Canaird replaces Fran Kirby.
Alternative, Chelsea Women. Jess Carter replaces Niamh Charles.
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