Ladies report: Chelsea 0 Wolfsburg 3

Emma Hayes’s side have an even bigger task in the second leg next week than they did last year in this competition against this opposition.

Individual mistakes proved costly tonight in this Round of 32 match in the Women’s Champions League, and against a side who played up to their recent pedigree in this competition that is a match for anyone, openings in attack proved hard to find.

As they did back in November when a last-16 match was held at Staines rather than Stamford Bridge, Wolfsburg went ahead early on and Hungarian striker Zsanett Jakabfi turned that into a double before the interval and a hat-trick not long after half-time.

Hedvig Lindahl also had to make a series of saves having returned in the Chelsea goal behind a reshaped team, Hayes opting for a back-three against the German attack and Ana Borges in a central midfield role, with Karen Carney in there too alongside captain Katie Chapman. Beth England was the choice as the player in attack supporting Eni Aluko, with Ji So-Yun and Gemma Davison on the bench.

There were early cries of derision from the crowd of nearly 4,000, here for this historic first competitive game at the Bridge for the Ladies, when Nilla Fischer went down chasing a ball back into the Germans’ half under pressure from Aluko.

When Wolfsburg attacked the Blues goal for the first real time, Anna Blasse got past Claire Rafferty but had her shot blocked by Millie Bright.

Chelsea won the first corner, but then on 11 minutes came a big misunderstanding at the back that led to the opening goal.

The Blues had just tested last year’s finalists with a long ball forward but now when facing one ourselves, headed on by Jakabfi, Rafferty and Lindahl waited for each other to take control of the situation and neither did. Instead Jakabfi was allowed between them to score.

It could have quickly been worse when Wolfsburg played a ball down the right-hand channel behind our defence but Lindahl got hands to the cut-back.

The problems continued however when Borges took a kick to the head and was deemed after treatment to be unable to continue. It meant the introduction of Ji after only 27 minutes.

Niamh Fahey, up from the back, linked with Carney and forced a Chelsea corner. Hannah Blundell, playing right wing-back, hung up a cross that the keeper claimed, but the Blues were enjoying our best spell of the game yet, although Lindahl needed two grabs to claim a corner that was headed down through a crowd.

Unfortunately it was not long before Wolfsburg added their second goal, which came from a cross from the left. Lara Dickenmann had the time to send the ball to the far post where Jakabfi’s downward header went through the legs of Lindahl. There were 38 minutes on the clock.

Aluko chipped a cross for Chelsea over into the area as the Blues tried to respond quickly but there was no one to meet it. Wolfsburg could have made it three in added time before the interval but Caroline Graham Hansen sliced wide.

Gemma Davison (pictured below) was brought on for the second half in place of Blundell with the defence now switching to a back four, with Millie Bright and Rafferty as full-backs.

At 2-0 down there was clearly much to do. England tried to make the Germans pay for a mistake in midfield but did not catch her shot cleanly but that initial momentum at the start of the half quickly dissipated when Jakabfi completed her hat-trick on 53 minutes. Possession was lost just inside our half and Graham Hansen raced down the left and set her colleague up with a chance she could not really miss.

Lindahl did then save from Graham Hansen after more Chelsea hesitancy and Chapman’s speculative shot cleared the target at the other end. A Blues free-kick awarded for handball was played in threateningly by Carney but the keeper just beat Bright to it with her punch.

It took a good double save from our Swedish international goalie to keep the scoreline down after one of the best moves of the game, and Chapman excelled in helping out her defence when another goal looked on the cards with 15 minutes left of the clock.

There was hope for a Chelsea goal before the end when Davison got the better of her marker but Aluko’s shot at the near post was blocked. So a three-goal deficit will need to be overcome to stay involved in our second Women’s Champions League campaign. Last year the tie ended 4-1 on aggregate after Wolfsburg won the first leg 2-1.

The away leg in Germany takes place next Wednesday and will be live on Chelsea TV.

Chelsea (3-5-2) Lindahl; Fahey. Flaherty, Bright; Blundell (Davison h-t) Borges (Ji 28), Chapman (c), Carney, Rafferty; England (Spence 78) Aluko.  
Unused subs Spencer, Kirby, Bailey, L Rafferty.
Bright 85

Wolfsburg (4-4-2): Schult; Peter, Fischer, Goessling (Simic 89); Blasse, Dickenmann, Gunnarsdottir, Graham Hansen (Wollaert 62); Popp, Jakabfi (Mittag 72).
Unused subs Frohms, Maritz, Bernauer, Bussaglia.
Scorer Jakabfi 12, 39, 54

Eftalia Mitsi
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