Blues forwards Erin Cuthbert, Fran Kirby and Bethany England discuss Sunday’s frustrating defeat against Lyon in the Champions League semi-final…
All three strikers played a pivotal part in Chelsea Women’s Champions League campaign this season.
Throughout the European competition Kirby netted five goals and Cuthbert got four. The Scottish international notably scored a goal in Lyon in the away leg when England headed the ball down to her team-mate who found the bottom corner with a powerful half-volley. Although we trailed 2-1 from the first leg, hope was certainly still alive going into the return fixture at Kingsmeadow in front of a sold-out crowd.
Emma Hayes’ side fought to the end and frightened the European champions when the Blues gave them a run for their money and caused our opponents problems. Despite Ji So-Yun scoring a free-kick and getting us back into the game, Chelsea Women feel hard done by to not have secured a place in the final after having numerous goal-scoring opportunities, plus controversial decisions go against us.
Cuthbert summed up the home tie and felt our dominance was not rewarded. She also believed that extra-time would have benefitted the Blues.
‘I think it showed we had the legs near the end of the game, we were pushing and they were backs against the wall. They changed their formation in order to sit even deeper, but at the end of the day they are champions for a reason and they showed that.
‘The fact that we can go toe to toe with them we can really be proud of ourselves but it’s just so disappointing and upsetting to come so close but so far at the same time.’
Like Cuthbert, England is disappointed as she really thought her team deserved a spot in the final and was moved after being voted player of the season by Chelsea Women Supporters Group.
‘We fought hard for that and we truly believed that this was the year that we were going to get there. I think fine margins at this level, we’re just conceding sloppy goals, not finishing chances when we should be.
‘It was tough because we did dominate parts of the game exactly like we did when we went away, but in the end it was crucial to finish the goals.
‘Hopefully we can regroup, go again and next time we’re back in we really fight for it again.
‘We can’t thank the fans enough for everything that they done, the turn out today and even for the voting for the supporters' player of the year, for me I can’t give enough gratitude to the fans for giving me that, I really appreciate that and really appreciate them.’
Kirby, who fell to the grass full of emotion when the full-time whistle blew, also reflected on the loss but knows her side will come back stronger.
‘You know you’re doing well when the other team has to try and run down the clock, a team like that, so we can be really proud of our performance, but ultimately we’re really disappointed because we felt we could have got more from the game.
‘We need to make sure that we go out this season with a bang, we want to score goals and we want to play well and finish off the season on a high so that the girls’ going into the World Cup can feel it as well.
‘It’s important that we keep our heads switched on and we go again.’
Sunday’s Champions League semi-final was a record attendance of 4,670 for Chelsea Women at Kingsmeadow.
The Blues have two more WSL fixtures of the 2018/19 season which are away. On Tuesday 7 May, we make the journey down to Dorchester to play Yeovil Town and on Saturday 11 May we will make the short trip to face Reading.