Emma Hayes was full of praise for new striker Mayra Ramirez and our stubborn opponents after the Colombian's first Chelsea goal saw us past Crystal Palace in the Women's FA Cup.
Chelsea continued our defence of the Women's FA Cup into the quarter-finals as we defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 at Kingsmeadow on Sunday afternoon.
January signing Mayra Ramirez sealed our progress with a brilliant first goal for the club, flicking Ashley Lawrence's low cross through a crowd at the front post with 10 minutes left and the game deadlocked.
That left Emma Hayes eager to give credit to our Championship opponents for the way they made life difficult for the Blues and stubbornly forced us to toil for our victory.
'It was a very tough cup game, Crystal Palace deserve a lot of credit,' said Hayes. 'They made it a difficult game, a scrappy game. The ball was out of play for more time in this game than any other game we’ve played in this year.
'They did everything to kill the momentum, that’s why there was 10 minutes added on at the end. But that’s to be expected and I can see why they’re challenging to go up to the WSL.
'I thought we passed the ball really poorly in the first half, we were made to work for the win. In the second half I asked the team to play with a little more quality, particularly passing the ball. That’s on us and I don’t think we did that well enough in general today.
'But we improved, players came off the bench to add something and it was a great debut goal for Mayra.'
Hayes believes a bit of frustration and mental fatigue contributed to our inability to find the breakthrough earlier...
'It's a cup match. Sometimes people think we’re in a different league so it’s going to be a pushover. They’ve given us a tougher game than some WSL teams this year.
'It was very frustrating to watch and I’m sure it was frustrating for the players to play in. They knew they weren’t at their best level.
'The number of games we’ve had, I could see that there may have been freshness in our legs but maybe not in our brains today. We’ve had a lot of football and I don’t think that was our best performance by any means.'
And, of course, Emma was pleased to see Ramirez get her name on the score sheet for the first time since joining the Blues from Levante last month...
'I’m delighted for Mayra to score such a world-class goal. When you’re playing teams that leave a lot of bodies low it’s a lot harder, there’s not a lot of space. Let’s see what happens when teams don’t close that same sort of space.
'But she stayed focused to get her goal and what a goal it was. She should have got one just before, when she hit the bar, but the goal was a world-class finish.'