Emma Hayes highlighted Chelsea FC Women’s resilience and relentlessness to become back-to-back Continental Tyres League Cup winners after beating Bristol City on Sunday.
Chelsea faced Bristol City at Watford FC’s Vicarage Stadium yesterday for the League Cup final and the Blues retained our trophy following a 6-0 thrashing of the Robins.
Sam Kerr scored a hat-trick, Fran Kirby netted two – while having a hand in all the goals – and Guro Reiten added the sixth to record the biggest score line in a final of this competition.
Once again we saw Kerr and Kirby linking up in the final third of the pitch and Hayes was very impressed with the free-flowing forward play.
‘It was clinical, our transitions, our switch play, our decision making in the finishing phase improved as the first half went on. I don’t know if it was the best but I certainly enjoyed it.
‘I’m really over the moon for Fran because I thought she was amazing. She’s always amazing but today the connection between her and Sam, just everything came off and it was a brilliant performance from her.
‘I’m the fortunate one because I get to work with these players every day. I had Pernille and Ji on the bench, how lucky am I to be charged with a task of managing, I can’t say coaching, managing this illustrious group and I am so thankful for the amount of humility I have in the dressing room and the hunger to make each other better.
‘It makes it an enjoyable environment when you have top players who are also top people so lucky me.’
After scoring her second Chelsea hat-trick yesterday, Kerr’s goal tally is now 16 in all competitions so far this season and the Blues boss has insisted the Australian forward is improving more and more with each match.
‘Sam has been getting better with every performance, she’s taken on the feedback we are offering in terms of adding the little pieces in front of goal.
‘You saw how brilliant her running is off the ball and her ability just to make special runs in the right areas and she’s deserving of her hat-trick.
‘She seems really happy on the pitch and you know when players are happy on the pitch they perform and she’s just getting better every week.’
Kerr, who is known for her trademark backflip, finally showcased the impressive goal celebration after 16 months of being at the club when she notched a brace within 10 minutes of play.
Hayes joked about the sensational celebration and said: ‘I’m shaking my head because I’ve waited over 12 months for that and she could have given me a heads up to let me know that it’s coming today but it came.
‘I have to say the first part of the flip was okay but the second part was really sloppy. It would have been a 4.0 if it had been rated at the Olympics.’
The Blues had to see out the final stages of the contest with 10 players after Maren Mjelde unfortunately had to be stretchered off the pitch after sustaining an injury.
Speaking at full-time, Hayes said: ‘It’s a bitter sweet moment to be honest. We were missing a big piece of us come the final whistle.
‘However, to have a difficult away tie in the Champions League and to have finished two in the last four games with 10 players, my team is once again showing it’s resilience.
‘What I was so impressed with was the intensity and the intention right from the start and we really took the game to Bristol.
‘We were relentless for 60 minutes, we really didn’t take the foot of the pedal and you can always talk about the opponent but from my perspective, I thought my team were outstanding.’
It is not clear yet as to the severity of Mjelde’s injury but the Chelsea manager expressed the devastation throughout the whole squad as the Norway international could not join in with the cup celebrations.
‘I think it is a knee injury and it was her standing leg, I don’t know if it was impact or not, I don’t know the mechanism.
‘We’ll probably have to wait until the pain subsides before they can do a scan so I don’t have any other update other than Maren is a hugely popular member of our team, she’s the mother hen, she’s a player that is admired by all.
‘She is a player that we have counted on so many times so everybody is really devastated for her that she couldn’t celebrate with the team at the end but I know my club and whatever the situation is, we will definitely take care of her.'
Chelsea now have three days to rest and recover before we travel north to take on Everton in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and Hayes expects a tricky encounter in Merseyside on Wednesday night.
‘We have to travel to Everton on Tuesday, we’re going to have a tough, tough game away.
‘I had to get some freshness for some of the players so at least we’re going up there in a better place than we were last week in terms of having a bigger quota to pick from, we have a full complement of players other than Maren really.
‘I know how tough they are going to be, I see how difficult it was for Man City to try and break them down and I know all eyes will be on us trying to do that and I’ll be interested to see if Everton sit in the same way they do against Man City or they actually come out and play against us.'