Ladies report: Rosengard 0 Chelsea 1 (0-4 on agg)

Chelsea Ladies are in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Champions League for the first time after Ji So-Yun’s goal made it two wins out of two against Rosengard.

The Blues had done much of the hard work in the first leg and they finished the job off in style tonight with another convincing victory against the third-ranked team in Europe.

Chelsea had chances throughout but one goal was enough in the end, Ji the scorer following some fine individual work by Crystal Dunn.

This was another outstanding collective performance, though, and when European football resumes next year Emma Hayes’s side will be full of confidence having already knocked out two of the best teams in the competition.

The draw for both the quarter-finals and the semi-finals is on November 24, with the last eight matches themselves taking place in the final week of March. 

Hayes opted to make a single change to the team that had won so convincingly in Kingston a week ago, bringing in Erin Cuthbert for Fran Kirby up front.

Our hosts also mixed things up in attack, with German striker Anja Mittag, the all-time UEFA women’s club competition scorer, selected to lead the Rosengard line.

The Blues started brightly on a cold night at the Malmo IP Stadium. Inside the opening 90 seconds, Ji bent a curling effort a fraction wide of the far post after good work from Ramona Bachmann, and it epitomised a confident first 10 minutes during which the Blues forced Rosengard onto the back foot.

The Swedish side would have wanted an early goal to try and get a foothold in the tie and they nearly got it at the end of a flowing move down our right, but thankfully for us Sanne Troelsgaard fired wide after Ali Riley had squared invitingly.

Cuthbert was proving a willing runner and when she was felled 25 yards out, Ji stepped up and brought a diving save out of Zecira Musovic between the Rosengard posts. From the resulting corner, played short, the keeper had to turn Bachmann’s dangerous, deep cross over the bar. 

Chelsea chances kept coming before the midway point of the half had even been reached. Cuthbert and Bachmann combined to tee up Mjelde, who skewed her left-footed shot well off target, and shortly after, Ji’s goalbound effort was blocked.

On 33 minutes, with the game now evenly balanced, an unmarked Gilly Flaherty headed another well-worked corner wide.

It proved the final clear opportunity of a half the Blues had certainly had the better of, and we could perhaps count ourselves unfortunate not to be further ahead in the tie.

As it turned out, we didn’t have to wait long to take the advantage on the night and all but put the tie to bed.

The goal owed much to the pace and skill of Crystal Dunn, who tricked her way past her marker and into the box before finding Ji. The South Korean’s first-time finish took a slight deflection off Glodis Viggosdottir, which helped it past Musovic.

Rosengard now needed to score five but it remained the Blues who looked more likely. Bachmann blasted a whisker wide a couple of minutes after Ji’s goal, and Mjelde’s clever header drew Musovic into action again.

There followed a couple of minor scares for Hayes’s side but as has been the case for so much of this European, and indeed domestic, campaign, the defence held firm and picked up another clean sheet.  

Bachmann had shone against her former club and it needed a good save from Musovic to deny the Swiss star from a similar position in which she had scored in the first leg.

On 75 minutes, Mjelde passed up two glorious opportunities to add her name to the scoresheet, first heading a free-kick over, and then finding herself one-on-one but thwarted by the busy Musovic.

The keeper tipped over a rising Kirby drive shortly after the former Reading striker had come on for Katie Chapman, but by now it was incidental with the job well and truly done.

All that was left to do was to celebrate another landmark achievement in Chelsea Ladies’ history.

Chelsea Lindahl; Bright, Flaherty, Eriksson; Thorisdottir (Blundell 62), Chapman (c) (Kirby 78), Mjelde, Ji, Dunn; Cuthbert (Carney 69), Bachmann.
Unused subs Telford, Rafferty, Spence, Aluko.
Scorer Ji 53
Booked Bachmann 67

Rosengard Musovic; Sorensen, Asante, Viggosdottir, Riley; Folkesson, Seger (c), Wieder; Troelsgaard (Hellstrom 78), Mittag, Landeka.
Unused subs McLeod, Sundqvist, Svensson, Torisson, Filekovic, Lyberg.

Referee Esther Staubli from Switzerland