Analysis

Chelsea Women’s reaction: We were ready, we got the job done

DURHAM (A) FA Women's Cup 18/19

The windy conditions proved to be a leveller in Chelsea Women's FA Cup quarter-final at Durham, but as far as Emma Hayes is concerned the only thing that mattered was getting the job done.

The Blues booked our spot in the semi-finals of the competition for the sixth straight season. Ji So-Yun scored the only goal of the game to see off dogged opponents from the Championship, with the wind and artificial surface making for a difficult 90 minutes.

It might not have been pretty, but Hayes did not care a jot after the full-time whistle blew to send her side into the hat for the last four.

'The wind was horrendous and it certainly made it a leveller, but we prepared for that,' said the Blues boss, who is now preparing her side for Thursday's Champions League quarter-final, first leg against Paris Saint-Germain at Kingsmeadow. Click for tickets

'We're not princesses! I exposed the team to the elements this week, preparing them for everything, and you have to expect the unexpected when you come to a place like this. We trained on an astroturf pitch at home with the same type of wind, so we were ready.

'It was about managing the game when we went ahead and we did enough to get through. Once we went 1-0 up we controlled the game and stifled their threats. We were a little bit sloppy in the second half, but it was about getting the job done.'

Read: Durham 0 Chelsea 1
 

Hayes also talked about the decision to deploy Maren Mjelde at centre-half for the Norwegian's second game in the space of a few days, having been unavailable for selection since the end of September.

While it is a position we regularly saw her fill last season, albeit as part of a back three instead of a four-player defence, some may have been surprised to see her playing there against Durham with Millie Bright playing in midfield.

'With Millie suspended for the first leg against PSG it was important Maren got to build towards the game,' the manager clarified. 'I also felt it was important to put a physical team out, knowing what the conditions would be like and what Durham's strengths are.

'Having Jess [Carter] and Millie in midfield made it harder for Durham to gain the momentum they wanted. Our players did the job. That's what this performance was all about.

'I didn't feel it was going to be a classic and the conditions were never going to allow for that – the ball was out of play more than it was in. Their best chances of scoring were set-pieces. They threatened early on, but once we settled into the game we managed it.'

The winner came from a familiar source, as Ji scored her seventh of the campaign with perhaps the one true moment of class in the 90 minutes, but Hayes was not surprised to see the South Korean appear as if she had all the time in the world in a packed penalty area.

'It was great timing from Ji and she's got the composure to bring the ball down under pressure and slot it home,' she said. 'I think it was the first time we'd got round them successfully.

'Then it was about controlling the performance and waiting for them to come out a little more, but the wind made it difficult for them too. Other than a late chance, there wasn't too much of a threat on our goal.'
 

Women's Champions League football is at Kingsmeadow on Thursday. Seats can be pruchased for the match against PSG or the last home league game of the season when the Women host West Ham on Sunday 31 March. Tickets are half-price (£3 adults & £1.50 juniors).

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