Chelsea suffer 2-1 defeat by Bayern Munich in semi-final first leg

Chelsea women suffer 2-1 defeat by Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final after a goalkeeper error… but crucial away goal gives Emma Hayes’ side the edge

  • Chelsea were beaten 2-1 by Bayern Munich in the first leg of their semi-final 
  • The Blues are looking to win the Champions League for the first time 
  • Emma Hayes’ side will have to turn it around in the second leg next week 

This Chelsea side has been built to win the Champions League and Emma Hayes has not tip-toed around the weight of expectations. Failing to win it would be a disappointment, she said before this game.

The away goal they scored in a compelling, energy-sapping first leg looks critical and gives Hayes’ players the edge ahead of Sunday’s return at Kingsmeadow. The Bayern players’ delight at the end suggested they were happy to have stayed in the tie and repelled the English side’s advances in the last half-hour.

But the Germans bring threats, the margins are fine and the flaws Chelsea displayed will make this a week for serious reflection.

Bayern Munich beat Chelsea 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final

The Blues will have to score at the return fixture at Kingsmeadow next weekend

They will have to eradicate them if they are to become only the second English side — and the first since Arsenal won it 14 years ago — to advance to a Champions League final.

Above all, there was the vulnerability of their right flank to the game’s outstanding player —Swedish wing-back Hanna Glas — who was granted wide open space by Jonna Andersson’s own attacking ambitions for Chelsea.

She more than exploited them, setting up the first goal and scoring the second with an arced shot from 20 yards. 

Sydney Lohmann opened the scoring after a mistake from goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger

Chelsea drew level when the ball deflected off Melanie Leupolz and looped into the net

At times, Chelsea’s defence looked more generally vulnerable to the quality of Bayern’s delivery from wide areas and a more fundamental hope in the next six days is that Magda Eriksson will be back to anchor it.

Hayes was making no promises that the Swede’s thigh problem will be resolved, though there is some hope that she will be restored and so, too, some of the defensive order which Chelsea have missed.

By a subtle process of cause and effect, there can be consequences when a central defensive pillar is missing. For Chelsea, we even witnessed Ann-Katrin Berger floundering beneath an early cross from Glas, which Sydney Lohmann gratefully headed in.

In the BT Studio at half-time, there was a strange reluctance to acknowledge this as the bad goalkeeping error that it plainly was. Yet Hayes, as always, called it categorically straight.

‘The cross has come into the area and Ann’s gone for it and tipped it into an area from where they’ve scored — we should have dealt with that,’ she said.

The women’s game does not welcome continuous comparisons with the men, though a Premier League manager would also have looked for far more excuses from fixture scheduling than Hayes did.

Chelsea went into this game four days after an energy-sapping match at Manchester City on which their title defence hinged.

It all added up to a performance which did not bring the best from them. There was a struggle to get Emma Kerr and Pernille Harder into the advanced positions from which they can be lethal.

The central midfield pairing looked vulnerable to counter-attacks, leaving Hayes to reflect: ‘This could have gone 3-1 and been a much harder task.’ 

Emma Hayes said she remains confident her side can turn it around in the second leg

The Blues were unable to find an equaliser despite mounting pressure in the second half

Yet Chelsea were quick to recover from a difficult start and equalised within 10 minutes from Guro Reiten’s free-kick — Bayern’s clearing header rebounding back into the net off Chelsea’s Melanie Leupolz.

They provided the game’s outstanding move — Fran Kirby rolling a ball under her heels a ball Ji So-yun had played into the left channel for Harder to curl a shot high, when she might have scored. And after Glas’s strike had put them behind again, they drove hard for parity a second time. Ji, their best player, struck the underside of the bar.

The elimination of Lyon, winners for the past five years, has suddenly thrown this tournament wide open and even though Barcelona’s performance in a 1-1 semi-final draw at Paris Saint-Germain suggests they are destined for the Gothenburg final, the Catalans do not look an insurmountable threat.

For Chelsea, there is a rare week free of football now to reflect on the threats and compute how to create a moment or two of class to defeat a Bayern side so concerned by Chelsea that they even deployed a five-strong defence in the home leg.

‘It’s half-time, we’ve got an away goal, so now we have to be calm and use our wisdom,’ said Hayes. ‘Do I think they’ll go five at the back and bank it with four in midfield? Yes I do but we’ve got a week in training and we have to solve it. That’s my job.’

5 ASIDES: Blue-sky thinking to stop trolls from Chelsea skipper Eriksson 

By Kathryn Batte 

1. It’s hard to see how clubs boycotting social media for a few days next weekend will end the vitriolic abuse which has become a fact of life for women in football, Sky’s Michelle Owen being the latest. Magda Eriksson’s comments in her latest column for the i paper provided a far more credible answer on Saturday. ‘Is there somebody out there who’ll create a different platform, where everything must be verified?’ the Chelsea captain asked.

2. Chelsea’s Pernille Harder doesn’t suffer fools when it comes to the men in suits who launched their short-lived European Super League plans. ‘I have the same opinions as all the fans around and the world,’ she says. ‘I’m happy it’s not happening. I didn’t think it would happen.’

3. Team GB have been drawn alongside Japan, Canada and Chile in the group stages of this summer’s Olympics. Hosts Japan are desperate to win gold and Canada have won bronze at the last two Games. The draw was always going to produce tough fixtures but the outcome could have been worse for boss Hege Riise, with her side managing to avoid the World Cup winners and runners-up in the USA and Holland.

4. Gemma Bonner has signed a two-year deal with American club Racing Louisville to bring her association with Manchester City to an early end. The defender, who has not played since December, will join up with her new team in time for the start of their season next month.

5. Bristol City kept their unlikely survival hopes alive with a 95th-minute equaliser against Aston Villa on Saturday. The teams are level on points at the bottom but Villa have a game in hand. The Robins were 2-0 down at half-time but showed character and fight. They cannot be written off. 

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