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The journey to Gothenburg

Chelsea Women have seen off Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Wolfsburg, and Bayern Munich on our journey to the Champions League final and the Blues will now battle it out with Barcelona on Sunday for the title of Champions League winners.

The Blues have been quite remarkable throughout our Champions League campaign, with plenty of highs along the way. Two victories over last year’s finalists, Wolfsburg, a semi-final triumph over German giants Bayern Munich and not many will forget Ann-Katrin Berger’s two incredible penalty saves which helped to secure a superb victory over Atletico Madrid.

That is what has been so impressive from Chelsea throughout our Champions League campaign. Our ability to find a solution, whatever the situation, led Hayes to describe her side as ‘mentality monsters’ and it’s that mindset that has seen Chelsea respond to setbacks with major comebacks.

The Blues go into Sunday’s final against Barcelona one victory away from creating history and securing our first Champions League title. Let’s re-live some of those special moments on our journey to Gothenburg…

Round of 32 1st Leg – Benfica 0-5 Chelsea

Fran Kirby became Chelsea’s record goalscorer as the Blues produced a clinical performance to open our 2020/21 Champions League campaign.

After a season away from Europe’s elite, Hayes’ side wasted no time establishing ourselves in the competition, on our return, and we were in front after only 80 seconds thanks to a milestone goal from Kirby.

Kirby turned home a low cross from Pernille Harder to take her tally for the club to 69 and Millie Bright doubled our advantage when the defender headed home a Guro Reiten free-kick.

By the time the opening 45 minutes were up, our lead was four as Reiten provided assists for Kirby and Harder. Bethany England made it 5-0 shortly after the interval, firing in her first Champions League goal to complete a more than satisfactory first European outing this term.

Round of 32 2nd Leg – Chelsea 3-0 Benfica

Chelsea put in a professional performance to finish the job against Benfica following our thumping win in the first leg, as we comfortably booked our place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Holding a five-goal lead from our trip to Portugal, England put us in front on the night with 28 minutes played. Sam Kerr made it 2-0 in the 64th minute, slotting the ball past the keeper after being sent through on goal by a pass from Reiten.

Drew Spence come off the bench to make her 200th appearance for the Blues and then in stoppage time England tapped home a cross from Kirby to make it 8-0 on aggregate.

Round of 16 1st Leg - Chelsea 2-0 Atletico Madrid

The Blues suffered an early blow when Atletico Madrid’s first real attack resulted in a penalty kick, awarded for a foul by Sophie Ingle that also earned the Welsh international a red card.

However, Berger stepped up to produce an excellent save to deny Deyna Castellanos and shortly after the break, the referee pointed to the spot for the second time in the match, this time for a foul on Kerr.

Up stepped Maren Mjelde to slot a penalty past former Chelsea goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl to put the Blues in front at Kingsmeadow. Five minutes later and our lead was doubled when Kirby side-footed a low finish beyond Lindahl to make it 2-0 and give us a clear advantage.

There was still more drama to come, though, as the visitors were given a second opportunity from the penalty spot. Remarkably, Berger guessed right the second time in the game, this time to deny Merel van Dongen, to maintain our lead.

Round of 16 2nd Leg- Atletico Madrid 1-1 Chelsea

For the second time in this tie the penalty spot was the centre of the action.

With a two-goal, advantage, it was very much a case of seeing out the job and Chelsea limited Atletico Madrid to few chances, until the game turned with 15 minutes remaining.

Niamh Charles was adjudged to have handed the ball in the penalty area but luckily for the Blues, Toni Duggan hammered her spot-kick against the crossbar. A minute later and the referee had pointed to the spot at the other end of the pitch for another hand ball.

Mjelde made no mistake from the spot which left Atletico requiring four goals to progress and although the Spanish side netted a last-gasp consolation goal from Emelyne Laurent, the Blues cruised into the last eight of the competition.

Quarter-finals 1st Leg - Chelsea 2-1 Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg had the better of the chances in the opening half, but Chelsea punished our German opponents for their missed opportunities.

As we’ve seen so many times this season, Kirby linked up well with Kerr and the Australian took one touch past the keeper before firing the Blues into the lead on 55 minutes.

The duo combined once again as their good play set up Harder to score against her former club just before the hour mark.

Dominque Janssen netted from the penalty spot minutes later to set up a tense finish, but Chelsea survived late pressure to earn our first-ever victory over Wolfsburg and take a 2-1 advantage into the second leg.

Quarter-finals 2nd Leg - Wolfsburg 0-3 Chelsea

Chelsea made the perfect start to our second leg tie with Wolfsburg as Harder converted a penalty after the referee awarded it for a foul on Kerr.

Immediately after our opener, Ewa Pajor couldn’t find the target from six yards out and our German opponents were made to pay for the missed opportunity when Kerr doubled our lead seconds later.

With her back to goal, Kerr controlled the ball with a deft touch before turning and firing a low drive past the keeper to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead at the break.

The Blues withstood some pressure from Wolfsburg and rounded off an impressive performance with a third goal from Kirby on 81 minutes to book our place in the last four of the competition for the third time in our history.

Semi-finals 1st Leg - Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea

Chelsea were dealt an early blow in the opening leg of our semi-final when Sydney Lohmann headed the hosts into an early lead.

The Blues responded well to the setback and equalised 10 minutes after Bayern Munich’s opener, albeit with a slice of luck. Reiten delivered a free-kick into the box and a defensive header rebounded off former Bayern Munich captain Melanie Leupolz and looped over the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net.

Just after the hour mark and the Blues suffered another blow when Hanna Glas scored from 25 yards to give the hosts a 2-1 advantage.

Ji So-Yun came closest to grabbing a second equaliser when her effort smashed against the crossbar and although the Blues couldn’t level the tie, a vital away goal gave Chelsea hope going into the second leg at Kingsmeadow.

Semi-finals 2nd Leg - Chelsea 4-1 Bayern Munich

Having lost the first leg in Munich 2-1, Hayes’s side got off to a flier, thanks to an early goal from Kirby. The Blues striker led a counter-attack, exchanging passes with Kerr, before slotting home.

However, after a promising start, Chelsea found ourselves level after 30 minutes when Sarah Zadrazil unleashed an effort from 30 yards into the top corner.

On the stroke of half-time, the Blues restored our lead when Ji hooked in a right-footed shot into the far bottom corner to draw Chelsea level on aggregate.

With six minutes to go, Harder headed home Jess Carter’s free-kick to put Chelsea 3-1 up on the night and what followed was a nail-biting finale.

It was backs against the wall as Bayern Munich threw everything at the Blues, with Magda Eriksson clearing an effort off the line. With seconds to go and with the Bayern keeper deep in our half, Erin Cuthbert found Kirby and the striker broke clear to score her second of the game to seal a place in our first ever Champions League final.

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