Chelsea Women overcame Aston Villa Women to reach the last four of the Continental Tyres League Cup for the third successive season last night and despite the 3-1 victory, Emma Hayes has revealed that she does not underestimate any opposition, with the focus now turning to Arsenal on Sunday.
The Blues were clear favourites ahead of last night’s Continental Tyres League Cup quarter-final against Championship high-flyers Aston Villa. However, our visitors carried out a magnificent defensive game-plan that held Hayes’ side to a goalless draw at half-time, with a whole host of Chelsea chances being denied.Eventually the breakthrough came for us 10 minutes after the break when skipper Magdalena Eriksson headed in Erin Cuthbert’s corner kick before Ji So-Yun, who was making her 150th appearance for the Blues, came off the substitutes’ bench to double our lead with a drilled low finish.Villa pulled a goal back against the run of play through Kerri Walsh with five minutes remaining but our victory was assured when 16-year-old Emily Murphy opened her Chelsea account with a poacher’s finish at the near post.
Read: Chelsea 3-1 Aston Villa match report
Hayes said after the game: ‘I have got my academy directors here tonight, they must be buzzing that Emily [Murphy] scored that goal. I’ll play the young players, but it’s got to be the right stage.‘She just never gave up, she kept going, she was relentless at the front post and look what it meant to her, she’s Chelsea.‘Aston Villa are going to come up, so we were playing a WSL 1 team. We’re through, a 16-year-old gets her first goal, her debut goal and I get to recover, rotate and reward all at once.‘There is never a perfect performance, credit the opposition, their organisation, they have got a fantastic young manager who has put together a group in a really good way. They are organised, they are prepared and I don’t underestimate.’While Hayes was pleased to reach the semi-finals, she revealed what she said to her group in the dressing room at half time that appeared to pay off.‘I said we’re not too good to lose. I’ve been in these games and I don’t underestimate anyone, for me it’s all about the winning and we won the game.‘Sometimes when you are that comfortable in possession you just think oh I’ll get another one, I’ll get another one, I’ll get another but the danger of that is if you don’t execute then one sucker punch.‘You saw it, they got a goal from one mistake from us so you have to be conscious, you have got to be switched on and we stayed switched on,’ Hayes continued.
Vice-captain Millie Bright is usually in the heart of the defence for the Blues but last night she was deployed in centre midfield and Hayes highlighted the impressive performance of the England international.She said: ‘I could play her [Bright] in goal and she would look comfortable. I could play her upfront, I have said it a million times, she is a top player.’Attentions now turn back to the Barclays Women’s Super League, with a trip to north London for a top-of-the-table clash with Arsenal. The Blues edged a 2-1 triumph against the Gunners at Kingsmeadow earlier this season and Hayes knows her team will have to be at their best again to get the three points.‘I know the opponent [Arsenal] well and I know the manager, I suspect he will throw a few surprises at me. So how do you prepare for a surprise? I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll be ready.‘I don’t know how you can stop us scoring, I feel that about the team. It will be a hard task and I don’t think it’s about shutting one player down in our team. We come out of that game with everybody in a good place and I won’t know how everybody is until Friday but I’m almost 100 per cent I can pick from who I want to.’
We are now back on the road, with Sunday’s trip to Arsenal followed by an FA Cup tie at Charlton Athletic, but we’re back at Kingsmeadow on Sunday 2 February when we host West Ham.
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The semi-final draw for the FA Women’s Continental League Cup will take place on BT Sport Score on BT Sport 1 at 3:50pm on Saturday. Former Blues captain Karen Carney and Jules Breach will be conducting the draw.