Chelsea have secured their place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League following a 1-1 draw Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their round of 16 tie, The Blues being the overall winners 3-1 on aggregate.
Maren Mjelde converted from the penalty spot late in the second half for The Blues, moments after Toni Duggan had hit the crossbar with a penalty for Atletico Madrid. The hosts found their leveller into second half injury-time through Emelyne Laurent’s curling effort, but it was too little, too late for the Spanish outfit.
The pressure was on Atletico Madrid going into this game, following their 2-0 defeat at Kingsmeadow in the first leg, a game in which they missed two penalties and played the majority with an extra body following Sophie Ingle’s early dismissal.
The game was moved from Madrid to the Stadio Brianteo in Monza, Italy due to Spain’s COVID-19 restrictions on travellers from the UK.
Chelsea made three changes from the team that won 2-0 away at West Ham United at the weekend with Ann-Katrin Berger, Melanie Leupolz and Fran Kirby all reclaiming their places in the starting XI.
The first real chance of the game came after 12 minutes when Pernille Harder found space to run at the Atletico defence and she unleashed a fierce shot from 20 yards but it fizzled wide of Hedvig Lindahl’s post.
Chelsea continued to pressure the hosts’ defence and should have taken the lead when Sam Kerr’s low cross was deflected by Atletico defender Grace Kazadi towards her own goal. The deflection was kept out by the feet of Lindahl before Kirby fired over the bar on the rebound.
Atletico waited patiently for openings and so nearly earned the game’s first goal after 40 minutes when a corner wasn’t dealt with by the Chelsea defence and the ball could only be cleared to the edge of the area where it was met with a sweet volley by Duggan, although it was perfectly collected up by Berger.
Chelsea had to replace Beth England just before half-time, following a minor knock with Guro Reiten coming on in her place.
Early into the second half, appeals for an Atletico penalty were waved by referee Stephanie Frappart, as Niamh Charles appeared to nudge forward Ludmila da Silva in the back. The referee pointed for a corner following high pressure from the hosts.
Atletico continued to throw everything at Chelsea and should have got the game’s first goal through another very good chance. Denya Castellanos picked out substitute Rasheedat Ajibade with a cross from the right but she could only divert her shot over the bar, not troubling Berger.
The hosts were given a penalty minutes later following a hand ball by Charles but Duggan couldn’t convert from 12 yards, as she hit the bar and Chelsea cleared the ball from danger.
The game literally changed within a minute as Chelsea worked their way up the field and won themselves a penalty, following a hand ball by substitute Sonia Majarin. The penalty was converted by Mjelde to give her side a 3-0 lead on aggregate.
Atletico’s hard work did pay off heading into injury time, as substitute Laurent curled beyond Berger to give her side the leveller but it would only turn out to be a consolation goal.
Chelsea held on for a 3-1 aggregate victory as they sealed their place in the last eight with the draw for both the quarter-finals and semi-finals set to be made this coming Friday.
The Blues will now look to focus on their next game as they look to retain the FA Women’s Continental League Cup for a second year running when they take on Bristol City at Vicarage Road on Sunday.