Ladies Report: Chelsea 1 Bayern Munich 0

A Drew Spence goal early in the game was sufficient for victory in the Ladies’ first European outing at our new home of Kingsmeadow.

The result must go down as the best yet for Emma Hayes’s side in the Women’s Champions League, in what is the third season in the competition, and although we came under some heavy pressure from Bayern in the second half, and Hedvig Lindahl in goal had some busy moments, there was grit and maturity in the way we went about our business and no away goal was scored, so setting up nicely the Round of 32 second leg in Bavaria next Wednesday night. 

Spence returned to the starting line-up in one of three changes from the big weekend win over Sunderland, for a game that was always going to be a true test of the team’s mettle. Maria Thorisdottir and Hannah Blundell were the others returning.

A year ago, at this stage of the tournament when the Blues faced another strong German outfit in the shape of Wolfsburg in the first leg at Stamford Bridge, we were 2-0 down by half-time and the tie was a long way to being over.  

In comparison, Chelsea could be very happy with the first 45 minutes of this game. In front of a good crowd over 2000 fans, we won the early free-kicks and pushed forward from the off, and it was from one of those set-pieces that Thorisdottir headed the first half-chance of the game over.

From the first opportunity created by either side in open play, the Blues took the lead. It was a sweet passing move from halfway, with the scorer Spence involved early on. She fed Blundell who found Ramona Bachmann with a well-weighted pass, which was squared perfectly for a first-time finish from Spence. There were just under 10 minutes played.

Thorrisdottir, from more possession won by Spence, nearly carved out another opportunity as Chelsea looked to increase the advantage quickly with the Germans unsettled by that early opener.

On 18 minutes, Bayern did cause problems at the other end from a free-kick that was knocked down. Skorvankova hit the post.

Chelsea went close too moments later, when Millie Bright was subject to surprisingly loose marking by the Bayern defence and headed a Bachmann free-kick a whisker wide of the post.

There were scares for Chelsea when Melanie Behringer picked up a Bright header back towards her goal but fired over, and when Nicole Rolser reached a viciously struck cross and Lindahl had to tip the ball over the bar. Bayern were winning corners too. They were starting to gain the upper hand with the game a third gone.

Chelsea responded. Blundell found space and fed Kirby for a shot that was blocked.

The Czech referee was letting plenty of challenges go and no one could argue it was not an enthralling game. Hayes must have been pleased with the work-rate of her players as well as the lead.

The first yellow card was produced on the stroke of half-time when a typically forceful run by Bachmann ended with our Swiss international dumped on the Kingsmeadow turf by Simone Laudehr.

It needed Lindahl to save from close-range to prevent Skorvankova wiping out our lead very soon after the restart and then Rolfo headed into the hands of the Chelsea keeper from another good position. Lindahl continued to be the centre of attention when she was carded for taking time over a goal-kick.

Leupolz was the next to shoot, thankfully over but the Germans, as they had threatened to for a spell in the first half, had gained a grip on the game. It needed a great block from Eriksson to send an effort over our bar and Skorvankova headed the resulting corner wide.

Both sides made substitutions and both sides had attempts at goal around the 70-minute mark. Katie Chapman looped a ball onto the roof of the German net and Lineth Beerensteyn, who had just come on for the visitors, was wasteful in front of goal.  

Crystal Dunn, back from injury, was one of the three substitutes brought on by Hayes and although Chelsea had been under plenty of pressure since the break, some steam by then had gone out of the Bayern efforts. No one went closer to scoring during the closing 10 minutes than Bright with a header from a corner.

Progress to the last 16 of the Women’s Champions League is now very possible for the WSL1 league leaders. The second leg is live on Chelsea TV.

Chelsea Lindahl; Bright, Flaherty, Eriksson; Blundell, Chapman (c), Mjelde, Thorisdottir; Spence (Davison 67), Kirby (Aluko 80), Bachmann (Dunn 74).
Unused subs Spencer, Carney, Ji, Cuthbert.
Spence 10
Lindahl 54

Bayern Zinsberger; Demann, Laudehr, Lewandowski; Maier, Behringer (c), Leupolz (Roord 80), Faisst; Rolfo (Beerensteyn 67), Rolser (Vonkova 89), Skorvankova.
Unused subs 
Weimar , Wieder, Wenninger, Dabritz.
Booked Laudehr 45

Referee Olga Zadinova from Czech Republic