Emma Hayes highlighted her side’s resilience and clinical edge as the key factors in beating Arsenal to lift the Continental League Cup for the first time.
The Blues travelled up to Nottingham Forest’s City Ground to contest the final of this competition for the first time, as well as having a chance to win the first silverware of the domestic season, and we came away with the trophy thanks to a 2-1 victory.Bethany England scored twice, including a last-minute winner after a late Arsenal equaliser by Leah Williamson, and Hayes felt the Blues showed just how ruthless we have become, as we came away with victory from a game in which her side were not often on top.‘The better team did not win the game; the most resilient team won the game,’ she said. ‘I value defending and I value resilience. It isn’t always about being the best team, it isn’t always about possessing the ball the most.‘This is the third time we’ve played Arsenal this season and the previous two we were extremely dominant in. No one in our camp thought this would be a dominant Chelsea performance – far from it. To win the game after they out-possessed us, they dominated, shows what a great team we really are.
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‘It’s just about getting one more goal than the opponent. I talked earlier in the season about this team not being clinical. Well, we’re clinical now.‘People don’t remember performances in finals, they remember results. They won’t be saying in three years’ time, “Remember that dominant Arsenal performance?” They’ll just say Chelsea won. It’s about producing winning football and results.’While Hayes rarely likes to single out players for praise, she did have kind words for two of her side’s key performers on a chilly evening by the River Trent.As well as two-goal hero England, Ann-Katrin Berger produced arguably her best display since joining the Blues last January, making several crucial saves. It was telling that when the final whistle blew, a number of players ran straight to the goalkeeper.
‘She was unbelievable, she really was,’ Hayes added. ‘I didn’t realise this before, but I have a lot of players who hadn’t won anything before and I think Ann was one of them.‘She finished second a lot and I’ve got a lot of players who have been in that position in their career. So it mattered. For Ann – came to the club to win trophies. Sam Kerr – came to the club to win trophies.‘We always talk about attacking being the most dominant feature of a football match, instead of saying why doesn’t Chelsea deserve to win the game on the basis of an outstanding goalkeeping performance. It’s not often we have to defend like that and still come through.‘With Beth, I love the story. She had to earn it. There was no way I was going to give it to her easily and she’ll tell you that!‘There’s nothing more joyful than when a player, who you don’t really know if they’re going to cut it at the top level, gets their head down and puts everything into their career. The talent was always there, but now you’re starting to see the fruit of hard work and perseverance.
‘I really think England have got a player who can add something to them going to the next stage. I was saying during the week she seems to be scoring the hardest goals and missing the easiest ones, but she can say the opposite to me today. That’s probably the easiest finish she’ll ever have. But she’s a credit to herself and her family.’