Emma Hayes says it was a ‘perfect night’ after Chelsea Women progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League following an 8-0 aggregate win over Benfica.
The Blues went into the second leg at Kingsmeadow with a 5-0 lead from the opening leg in Portugal and a brace from Bethany England and a Sam Kerr goal on her Champions League debut booked our place in the last 16 with an aggregate 8-0 victory.
Hayes was delighted to see England and Kerr both on the scoresheet and also highlighted other aspects she was pleased with during Wednesday’s win over the Portuguese side.
She said: ‘Your strikers always want to score goals, and we want them to score goals.
‘I always say your contribution isn’t one thing or another, they have to put a shift in for the team and they did that. You ask for your perfect night, you ask for your strikers to score, a clean sheet, no suspensions or yellow cards, well I got what I wanted!
‘No injuries, no issues, a happier dressing room with more playing time so I’ve got a few days respite!’
Hayes made eight changes from our league victory over Brighton on Sunday and the Blues boss believes the depth in our squad will prove crucial towards the latter stages of the season.
‘You’ve got to look at our schedule from January onwards and if you know what it is, you’ll know why I have this depth. This is the first half of the season and it’s been the easiest first half of the season that I’ve ever known it but that means all the games will start to come thick and fast.
‘If we make the latter stages of the Champions League then we’ve got league fixtures that have to be re-scheduled within that.
‘I plan on playing a game every four days, all the way through till the end of May other than a couple of weekends plus the international games.
‘We have this depth because we absolutely need it. It’s critical.’
Both Jessie Fleming and Niamh Charles made their first Champions League starts and Hayes predicted a bright future for the two youngsters.
‘I have to build Chelsea for now and for the future too and in Niamh Charles and Jessie Fleming, we have two wonderful players who have come into our environment and give so much day in day out to the team.
‘In most teams they can start week in week out, but we have so much quality that for them their priority and focus is making sure they meet the demand of our standards which they do.
‘I was so happy for both of them because I know they are brilliant team players. The team think so much of them and for them to get 90 minutes under their belt is something they both really wanted to look forward to when they came to this club. They wanted Champions League football so I’m really happy for them.
‘For me she [Niamh] was player of the match,’ Hayes added. ‘She was the one player I felt we was lacking last year. I felt like we needed an out-and-out wide player who was direct.
‘She always caused us problems when she played for Liverpool and she was absolutely the player I wanted last season so I was over the moon to sign her.
‘I think she’s got a huge future for both club and country.’