Chelsea’s Women’s Champions League hopes in balance after Juve hold firm

by 24britishtvDec. 9, 2021, midnight 43
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Joe Montemurro, the Juventus manager, scored a rare success in his battle with Chelsea counterpart, Emma Hayes, as the Italian side earned a Champions League point at Kingsmeadow, where Sam Kerr was booked for shoving over a pitch invader.

“I don’t know why he didn’t wait to the end, he could have got a picture then,” a somewhat bemused Hayes said of the encroacher who tried to take a selfie with Chelsea’s captain, Magda Eriksson. “In all serious, we’ve got to think about player welfare and safety.”

Hayes praised the resilience of her team in taking a point despite failing to score for the first time this season. “I’m not frustrated [we didn’t score]. I’m knackered [after the FA Cup final win].

“We aren’t superhuman. Would it have been nice, would it have been easier to go into next week [qualified]? Of course.”

Hayes had anticipated the intentions of Juventus, predicting the Italian team would play for a draw in the second meeting of these sides in the group stage.

With Servette, Group A’s cannon fodder, up next for Juventus and their former Arsenal manager Montemurro, three points next week in Turin will now be enough for them to progress regardless of the result between Chelsea and Wolfsburg on the same night.

“It’s amazing,” Montemurro said. “We were just happy to be in the group stages and use this year as a learning experience.”

The midfielder Martina Rosucci said: “We’re really at a crucial turning point at this moment. Other clubs in Europe now are noticing the strengths of Juventus, that we’re not an easy team to face. Italian football is changing and improving.”

Hayes was not wrong in her assessment of how Juventus would set up. Massed in their own half for much of the first 45 minutes, they failed to record a single shot to Chelsea’s 11, with the former Arsenal goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin called into action periodically to keep the game goalless. Chelsea’s best play came out wide from Guro Reiten and Erin Cuthbert , both of whom forced fairly routine stops from Peyraud‑Magnin early on.

Kerr went closest to breaking the deadlock just before the half-hour, the Australia forward beating Martina Lenzini to Ji So-yun’s clearance before rounding the goalkeeper but firing wide of the far post from a tight angle. Moments later Kerr could only head Fran Kirby’s teasing clipped ball to the far post over the crossbar, with the pass just a little high for her.

Millie Bright had a go from distance, Peyraud-Magnin tipping the England centre-back’s effort over the bar.

In the second half Hayes’s players and the lively home crowd were frustrated when Kerr looked to have made the breakthrough on 57 minutes having tapped in Kirby’s cross, but she was correctly flagged offside.

Chelsea were dominant, but their efforts at goal were not clean ones, with just five of their 17 shots on target. The frustrations spilled over late on when Kerr was booked for pushing over the untimely pitch invader and Ann-Katrin Berger was shown a yellow card after she raged at Barbara Bonansea, who was also booked, for kicking Cuthbert in the shin when swinging at the ball.

The draw means Chelsea’s hopes of progression rest on them taking something, anything, from the game in Germany and, with Wolfsburg having earned a draw in London, that is far from straightforward.

“I think we had the toughest group,” said Hayes. “To be sitting top of the group right now, I’m really happy about that. We’re learning. My players showed they’re resilient and they deserve a day off tomorrow.”

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