Second-half goals from Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder helped the Blues secure a 2-1 victory against Wolfsburg in the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final.
Wolfsburg certainly had the better of the chances in the opening half with their captain Alexandra Popp hitting the post and Ann Katrin-Berger twice denying Fridolina Rolfo.
Niamh Charles and Jonna Andersson both cleared efforts off the line and 10 minutes into the second half, the Blues would punish our German opponents for their missed chances.
Fran Kirby linked up well with Kerr and the Australian took one touch past the keeper before firing home to give the Blues the lead on 55 minutes. Kirby and Kerr would combine once again as their good play set up Harder to score against her former club just after the hour mark.
Our 2-0 lead only lasted a matter of minutes as Dominique Janssen netted from the spot after Magda Eriksson fouled Svenja Huth in the box.
Chelsea would survive late pressure to earn our first ever victory over Wolfsburg and take a 2-1 advantage into next Wednesday’s second leg.
Before then, Emma Hayes and her side entertain Aston Villa at Kingsmeadow on Sunday as the Blues look to maintain our spot at the top of the Women’s Super League table.
Emma Hayes made just the one change from the side that secured a 3-0 victory against Everton last Wednesday, bringing Sophie Ingle into the side after the midfielder missed our win on Merseyside following a knock she picked up in the Continental League Cup Final.
Niamh Charles continued at right-back, joining Millie Bright, captain Eriksson and full-back Jonna Andersson in the Blues backline ahead of goalkeeper Berger.
Ingle came into the midfield alongside Melanie Leupolz and Ji So-Yun with Harder sitting in an attacking role behind in-form strikers Kirby and Kerr.
Chelsea went into the game at the Szusza Ferenc Stadium officially as the home team, but it was our opponents who looked more comfortable in the early exchanges of this afternoon’s quarter-final.
There was an early sign of the threat that Wolfsburg would pose when they came close to opening the scoring after just three minutes. Rolfo rose highest in the box and directed a header towards goal but thankfully for the Blues, Bright was in the right place at the right time to block the goalbound effort and clear the danger.
Harder, facing her former club for the first time, latched on to a loose pass but the attacking midfielder couldn’t manage to take the ball around the keeper for what would have resulted in an opportunity to tap into an empty net.
Moments later and Wolfsburg captain Popp hit the post and Charles had to be alert to clear the rebound off the line.
Chelsea then had Berger to thank when the Blues keeper twice denied Rolfo from close-range before Andersson cleared an overhead kick from Pajor off the line.
Seconds later and our opponents did have the ball in the back of the net, but Popp was adjudged to have directed the ball into the net with her hand which resulted in the midfielder being shown a yellow card.
With half-an-hour on the clock, the Blues managed to create our first real opening of the game and it was no surprise that both Kerr and Kirby were involved.
Bright found Kerr after a marauding run and the Australian threaded a perfect weighted pass into the path of Kirby. Kirby had the option to get a shot on target but instead rolled a teasing ball across the six-yard box, but no Chelsea player had made a run into the box for what would have been an easy finish at the back post.
Another chance for Wolfsburg followed and this time Berger could only watch and hope as a header from Rolfo went narrowly wide of her post. Some would say that Chelsea were lucky to still be level going into the break.
Chelsea had certainly ridden our luck in the first half and minutes after the restart, the Blues had luck on our side once again as a header from Rolfo crashed against the woodwork.
Minutes later though and Chelsea punished our opponents for the missed opportunities, and it was terrific link up play between Kerr and Kirby that broke the deadlock.
Kirby gathered a pass from Ji before slipping a ball through to Kerr and the Australian took one touch away from the keeper before smashing home from a tight angle to give the Blues a 1-0 lead on 55 minutes.
Just moments later and Berger proved why she is one of best goalkeepers in women’s football as she pulled off a world class save to keep out a sweetly struck volley from Rolfo.
That save proved even more vital just minutes later as Harder netted against her former club to double our advantage. Kirby capitalised on a mistake in the Wolfsburg backline and quickly got the ball to Kerr who unselfishly laid the ball to Harder and the midfielder stroked the ball into the bottom corner.
Our 2-0 advantage wouldn’t last long as Eriksson brought down Huth in the box and Janssen stepped up to send Berger the wrong way and pull a goal back for her side.
Chelsea withheld late pressure from Wolfsburg to earn our first ever victory over the German side and give the Blues a 2-1 advantage going into next week’s second leg.
Before our return to Budapest, Chelsea will turn attentions to the Women’s Super League as we take on Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon at Kingsmeadow.
Chelsea (4-3-1-2) Berger; Charles, Bright, Eriksson (C), Andersson; Leupolz, Ingle, Ji (Cuthbert 74); Harder; Kirby (Reiten 80), Kerr
Unused subs Musovic, Telford, Blundell, Carter, Fleming, Spence, Fox, Beever-Jones
Scorers Kerr 55, Harder 66
Booked Charles 60, Leupolz 90
Wolfsburg (4-3-3) Kiedrzynek; Hendrich, Doorsoun-Khajeh, Janssen, Rauch; Oberdorf, Popp, Engen, Huth, Pajor (Jakabfi 76), Rolfo (Blomqvist 66)
Unused subs Schult, Abt, Blasse, Saevik, Svava, Wolter, Dickenmann, van de Sanden, Wedemeyer, Goessling
Booked Popp 15, Doorsoun-Khajeh 18, Oberdorf 83
Scorers Janssen 70 (pen)
Referee Jana Adamkova