Emma Hayes felt an excellent week on the training pitch was a key factor in the solid performance against Liverpool which returned Chelsea Women to winning ways.
While the attention was, understandably, on Magdalena Eriksson and her spectacular overhead kick which settled the contest, the manager preferred to focus on the less aesthetically pleasing aspects of her side’s display.
The Blues were dominant throughout, as we have been for the majority of our fixtures this term, and Liverpool were afforded little time in possession by a relentless pressing game from the home team at Kingsmeadow.
- Report: Chelsea 1 Liverpool 0
The attitude and application shown by the 14 players who took part for the Blues certainly did not go unnoticed by Hayes.
‘We had a free midweek, which doesn’t happen very often, after our 0-0 draw with Birmingham the week before, and the players made the most of that and really put in the hard yards,’ she said.
‘We’ve still got plenty to work on, and we’re not quite firing yet, but we’ve taken steps forward and we’ll continue to do so as long as that effort remains on the training pitch.
‘Carly Telford didn't have a lot to do and we created enough clear-cut chances to extend the lead beyond the one goal, but a win is a win.
‘You only need one goal to win a game, so whether you get one or seven is irrelevant – we got the one that has got the three points and it moves us up the table.’
Hayes also had plenty of positive words for her side’s match-winner, a player who has typically been one of the unsung heroes since her arrival at the club last year and whose levels have rarely dropped from the high standards she has set.
‘I know the goal will get all the plaudits, and rightly so, but I’d like to highlight how magnificent she has been in general,’ added Hayes.
‘She is a real leader on the pitch and you could see from the reaction of the players to her goal the esteem in which she is held in by her peers.’
Hayes also had an update on the condition of Maria Thorisdottir, who came off the bench in the second half but had to go off soon after following an aerial collision which left her requiring a prolonged period of treatment on the pitch.
‘Maria is a little bruised and battered, but she'll be okay,’ reported the manager.
Attention now turns to the Champions League, with the squad flying out to Florence for the second leg of our last-16 tie with Fiorentina.
The Blues lead 1-0 after the opener at Kingsmeadow, thanks to an early penalty from captain Karen Carney, and Hayes knows her team will have to be at their best again if we are to progress.
‘It'll be tough away in Italy with only a one-goal advantage, but we kept a clean sheet at home in the first leg,’ she said. ’We know it's going to be a hard night. Fiorentina got a good result in this competition last season against Wolfsburg so we'll prepare properly and do our best.’
- You will be able to follow the trip to Italy on this website, and on @ChelseaFCW Twitter