Ladies reaction: Keeping winning on all fronts

Both manager Emma Hayes and captain Katie Chapman noted Brighton’s defensive fortitude in yesterday’s Continental Tyres Cup match, but it was a mark of Chelsea Ladies’ attacking know-how that three goals were still scored in our group-stage game on the South Coast.

The Seagulls kept the Blues down to a 1-0 lead until the final quarter-of-an-hour – Fran Kirby having opened the scoring with a forceful strike - and it took until the final 15 minutes for Crystal Dunn and Ji So-Yun to add the goals to reflect the team’s dominance of the encounter.

‘It was a really professional performance from the team,’ assessed Hayes after the final whistle.

‘We took a while to break Brighton down. They were organised and disciplined and that was understandable considering their coach [former England Women manager Hope Powell] but the early goal from Fran settled us.

‘In the second half we were a bit more expansive. We certainly had better width in the midfield areas and as a result of that, we moved the ball a lot better. We were clinical and I think the scoreline was probably reflective of the performance.

‘Brighton were really resilient in their defending,’ agreed Chapman. ‘They banked up and made it hard to play through them but in the end, we got our goals and broke them down.

‘We have a great squad here and it is important we take every competition seriously. There is not one competition we are looking at, we want to do the best we can all season.’

Only Bayern Munich in the away leg of our Champions League tie have found the Chelsea net over the seven games this season, although it did need the reaction speed of super Swede Hedvig Lindahl to prevent Brighton scoring moments after Chelsea had taken a 2-0 lead.

‘I love the clean sheets,’ said Hayes. ‘You hear it from me week in, week out and when I saw Hedvig Lindahl make the save she did, all I kept thinking was that everybody was as pleased with that save as they were with the three goals that went in.

‘We needed that two-goal cushion. Full credit to Brighton, they defended well. They did not attack a lot or in numbers but in Ini Umotong up top they had a player who was threatening. We needed the second goal to be comfortable in the game and once we got it, other than the odd attack and the great save, we were. I was pleased that we got another one to finish off a very good performance.’

‘We are priding ourselves at the minute on clean sheets and lucky enough our keeper was on hand, she is a world-class keeper and saved it,’ said Chapman who has played all seven games so far.

‘Yes, we shall see how that goes!’ she smiled. ‘I am enjoying it at the minute and happy to lead the team out and if I am not playing, I am happy for the team to go out there and perform anyway.’

Having made it one win from one in the group stage of the Continental Tyres Cup, it is straight onto the second group game at Bristol City on Saturday, kick-off 5.30pm.  

‘We only have a few days recovery but we are professionals and the players know how to do this,’ said Hayes. ‘They put it in and I know how important every game is for the club, and the players equally are so committed to bringing success to this football club.’