Chelsea Women came from behind to beat Manchester City 2-1 in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League on Sunday and boss Emma Hayes praised the character of her ‘ice cool’ team.
Despite Chelsea hitting the woodwork twice and dominating possession at Kingsmeadow, City took the lead against the run of play when Caroline Weir volleyed home at the back post with just half an hour to play.But the Blues responded in style with top scorer Bethany England levelling in the 78th minute before Maren Mjelde diverted England’s shot beyond Ellie Roebuck in the City goal to put us in front with 10 minutes remaining.There was no way back for City after Mjelde’s strike as the Blues recorded a first win over City in the league since 2014, much to the delight of the 3,498 fans in attendance.‘This is a team that stays ice cool and that was the big difference in this game compared to against City in the past,’ said Hayes after the game.‘It’s like a chess match when you play against Manchester City, we had to be patient, we conceded off of a poor error.‘It’s about momentum and the momentum even a goal down was always with us. We conceded against the run of play, we conceded with probably their only shot on goal so their best player was their goalkeeper.‘Defensively we were exceptional, we made it difficult for them to dominate the areas they wanted to dominate. It was a gutsy performance from the team.'
Read: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City report
Although the Blues have beaten Manchester City in the Women’s FA Cup to reach the final on three occasions, yesterday marked our first Women’s Super League win since the first meeting of the sides in the summer of 2014.
‘It was something we had to put to bed. We’ve overcome a team that we have struggled against, especially at home,’ said Hayes.
‘I have asked certain things of them and they responded and that shows their level of commitment to winning. It was the result I was looking for from my team.’
Having been trailing by a goal, the Chelsea boss made a tactical change and brought on Drew Spence in place of Guro Reiten. The change made a noticeable difference as the Blues raised the bar and minutes later the breakthrough finally came. Hayes had nothing but praise for the midfielder who has been a part of the club for over a decade.
‘Drew [Spence] was magnificent, the game needed Drew, the team needed Drew. Drew has been an instrumental player to this team over the number of the years and she’s so gutted not to be in the team at the moment but it’s not because of anything she’s not doing.
‘The tactics might not require a third midfielder and I asked her to play a little bit higher and her contributions once again deserve all the credit because to me Drew was the difference in the game.’
Yesterday’s victory was the Blues’ 10th win in a row and Hayes spoke about the differences from the beginning of last term.
She added: ‘It’s not over after the first five games, that’s the difference. If you look at our form from October last year, we were solid but we were out of the title and the only difference is we’re in it now. We’re in the title race.
‘For us just breaking that curse of beating City is the milestone for now and we’re going to reflect on that.’
Hayes also provided an update on the absence of forward Fran Kirby and said: ‘She has a really bad virus and we had hoped she started training this week but she just wasn’t well enough. It set her back purely because her chest is having to manage this cold weather on the back of a virus.
‘She started training but was not right so we’ve taken the decision to just let her heal and she won’t play this side of Christmas.’
It’s a quick turnaround for us as we host Reading Women on Wednesday evening for our final group stage match of the Continental Tyres Cup. With a quarter-final spot sealed, the Blues’ focus will be to finish top of the table. Tickets for the match are still available to purchase.