Tonight the Blues weathered the storm and travelled north to take on Manchester City in the Continental Cup quarter finals. After a nail-biting 4-2 victory, the defending champions booked their place in the semi finals of the competition.
A slow start saw a handful of chances at goal just missed by stars Sam Kerr and Bethany England. On the bench was Fran Kirby, earning a rest after scoring five goals in her last two games.
Man City were determined in their early possession of the ball, but Hayes’ defence kept them at bay. Chelsea retaliated with some good build-up and won several set-pieces, but none could be converted. Both sides made concerted efforts towards the goal. But neither keepers were challenged until moments before half time.
Finally, a free-kick by Erin Cuthbert found Melanie Leupolz in a scuffle. Leupolz smashed the ball low past the City defence, taking the Blues ahead at half-time.
As the second half kicked off, Chelsea looked ready to keep up the pressure. Unfortunately it didn’t take long for City to equalise as a poor deflection by Magdalena Eriksson landed at the feet of Chloe Kelly.
With half an hour to go and neither side making much headway, Guro Reiten came on for Cuthbert. Pressure continued to rise and fall, and Hayes made a final double substitution of Niamh Charles and Sophie Ingle to try and inject some energy into the squad.
Despite minimal chances throughout the second half, City made them count due to sloppy defending from the Blues. Lauren Hemp took the Manchester side ahead for the first time with five minutes to spare.
All was not lost following a stunning goal in the final minute by Charles. The youngster showed her technical prowess with a beautiful strike that took the game into extra time.
The Final Countdown
Both sides showed their fatigue as extra time wore on. But the torrential rain couldn’t dampen Chelsea’s spirits. The deadlock was broken by Reiten, who claimed a perfectly-timed cross from Harder with a sliding finish.
The final nail in the coffin for City came with a left-footed wonder-strike by Ingle, proving her 2019 goal of the season against Arsenal was no fluke. Gareth Taylor’s side weren’t giving up, but their shots could not get past the unyielding Ann-Katrin Berger in goal.
With that, the Blues sail into the semi-finals once again. Perseverance paid off as an uneasy beginning ended in some spectacular finishes from substitutions. 2021 is off to a promising start for Hayes side, who face Bristol City next in their unbeaten league run.