Ladies report: Chelsea 3 Rosengard 0

Chelsea Ladies take a big advantage into next week’s Champions League round of 16 second leg thanks to goals from Fran Kirby, Ramona Bachmann and Gilly Flaherty.

This win, which came on the back of the impressive victory over Bayern Munich in the previous round, was no more than the Blues deserved for a thoroughly commanding performance which only gave our Swedish opponents the occasional glimpse of our goal.

Kirby, the hero in Germany, converted one of a succession of first-half chances for a 1-0 lead at the interval with Bachmann netting midway through the second half for her first of the season, and Flaherty adding her goal soon after.

Emma Hayes made two changes from the side she fielded at the start of both legs against Bayern. Crystal Dunn and Ji So-Yun were the players introduced and the manager must have been pleased with her chosen side’s start on this chilly November night in suburban Surrey.

A succession of set-pieces inside the opening 10 minutes asked questions of the Swedes. From one of the corners won, Katie Chapman forced a flying save from Bachmann’s skilfully delivered cross but the pressure stayed on from the corner big time, with Maria Thorrisdottir forcing a goalmouth clearance and the crossbar struck from a deflected Ji shot. Flaherty almost scored from a goalmouth scramble and Bright’s and Thorisdottir’s follow-up goalbound shots were blocked. How the Blues did not score in that frenetic minute is anyone’s guess.

Bachmann, playing up front with Kirby, had an 11th-minute low shot saved and Thorisdottir headed onto the roof of the net after the flying Dunn had wriggled free and crossed from the left. These would be repeating patterns to the game.  

The free-kicks kept coming and Chelsea were winning the aerial battles. Zerica Musovic saved a firm Chapman header before, on 20 minutes, Rosengard managed their first attack and it needed Dunn to hook the ball off the line from an Ella Masar header.

Chelsea responded with another assault on the Rosengard goal, skipper Chapman this time working the keeper with a dipping shot after a low effort from Ji had been saved a minute before. The Korean then showed her skill on 27 minutes to tease the ball into space inside the area but her shot with the outside of her boots was also saved by the busy Musovic. 

The Swedes were surely not going to make it to the break with their goal intact and on 32 minutes, Kirby struck a shot that could not be saved. Maren Mjedle supplied the pass from deep that gave Super Fran the space to attack the backline which she needed no second invitation to do. She cut inside Ali Riley and scooped the ball low and left-footed into the far corner. A trademark finish. As in the Bayern tie, Chelsea had made a first-half breakthrough and at the same end of the Kingsmeadow pitch too. 

The chances were there for a second goal before the interval. Millie Bright could not get the power she would have wished on a header from a Magda Eriksson free-kick and Kirby went close twice in the matter of seconds, the first with a stab shot and the second at the far-post after Dunn had destroyed Boye Sorensen on the byline.

It was 21 attempts on goal by Chelsea to the visitors two when the half-time whistle blew.

There was a contrasting start to the second period with Bright called upon to head off the Chelsea line after Hedvig Lindahl’s punched clearance had been returned goalwards. Our keeper then kept her composure to punch a deflected shot out from under her crossbar under heavy pressure. Chelsea were being asked to defend for a sustained spell for the first time in the game.

It was never likely to be 90 minutes domination against seasoned opposition in this competition but Hayes’s side rallied, and Dunn had a thumped volley from a Thorisdottir cross deflected wide of the Rosengard goal.

The visitors had only just made their first substitution when Chelsea doubled the lead. The move was simple and precise. Thorisdottir moved the ball onto Ji who found Bachmann on the left. The Swiss, who played for four years with Rosengard, found their net with a left-footed strike across the keeper.  

The Malmo side were now up against it with 20 minutes of this first leg still to go, and the lead was soon 3-0. Ji had teased them inside their area in the build-up but it was Eriksson’s high ball in that was cleared only as far as Kirby. Her blocked shot fell into the path of Flaherty who had stayed up after a set-piece, and the centre-back turned it in.   

Eriksson went closest to a fourth goal with a thumping free-kick which needed a diving save.

There is still plenty of work to do in the second leg of course but the Blues have given themselves a great chance of making the quarter-finals for the first time. The match in Malmo is next Wednesday and will be live on Chelsea TV.

Chelsea Lindahl; Bright, Flaherty, Eriksson; Thorisdottir (Blundell 79), Chapman (c), Mjelde, Ji, Dunn; Kirby (Spence 79), Bachmann (Carney 83).
Unused subs Spencer, Davison, Cuthbert, Aluko.
Kirby 32, Bachmann 66, Flaherty.

Musovic; Sorensen, Asante, Viggosdottir, Riley; Folkesson, Seger (c), Wieder (Mittag 66); Troelsgaard, Landeka, Masar.
Unused subs McLeod, Sundqvist, Hellstrom, , Torisson, Filekovic, Lyberg.
Masar 16

Referee Bibiana Steinhaus from Germany

HIGHLIGHTS: Rosengard (H) UWC 17/18