Hayes: The importance of the early goal

An early goal was the difference for Chelsea Women in our win over Everton yesterday, according to manager Emma Hayes.

The Blues returned to action after the winter break in front of a packed crowd at Kingsmeadow and those supporters who took advantage of the club giving away free tickets to our opening WSL match of the year were rewarded by a fantastic attacking display by the reigning champions.

Back in September, we had been held by the Toffees on Merseyside after failing to make the most of our early opportunities, but on this occasion we never looked back once Bethany England had opened the scoring.

Further goals from Drew Spence and Hannah Blundell after half-time made the victory safe, although the margin of victory could have been far greater than three had we taken our chances.

‘They held us to a draw in the first part of the season and we know how difficult they were to break down – a very energetic, aggressive side full of top young players,’ said the manager.

‘I thought we started really strongly and put them under a lot of pressure, knowing we had a big crowd, and we got the early goal, which is something we haven't done a lot. Against these teams, I think you have to.

‘Their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves and Hedvig Lindahl made an equally wonderful save for us at 1-0, and then in the second half we went up another gear. The second goal came at a key time and we kept another clean sheet. Overall I'm pleased with a good performance.’

The Blues have now won nine matches on the bounce, each of them with a clean sheet, and Hayes will be looking for her side to take their winning run into double figures when Reading visit Kingsmeadow on Wednesday night for a Continental Tyres League Cup quarter-final. Click for tickets

‘My team have conceded five goals, all in one game, the entire league season,’ said Hayes of her miserly defence. ‘It's a fantastic record.

‘We might go unbeaten for the remainder of the season and not qualify for the Champions League. That's the way it is. As long as we keep improving the performance, our concentration is on the cup competitions.’

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