Chelsea have booked their place in their first-ever UEFA Women’s Champions League final following an exciting 4-1 semi-final second leg win over Bayern Munich at Kingsmeadow, ensuring they edged the tie 5-3 on aggregate.
Fran Kirby gave Chelsea the lead after only 10 minutes before a moment of quality from Sarah Zadrazil pulled the German side level on the day and ahead on aggregate. The hosts went into the break with a 2-1 second leg lead after Ji So-yun finished beyond visiting keeper Laura Benkarth from the edge of the area. A goal from Pernille Harder and another from Kirby in the final 10 minutes of the game sealed Chelsea’s place in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final for the first time ever.
Both sides have enjoyed fairly similar seasons with success both on and off the pitch but it was Bayern who had the edge going into the second leg, holding a 2-1 lead over Emma Hayes’ side from the first leg tie in Munich last weekend.
Sydney Lohmann and Hanna Glas got the goals for Bayern during the first leg which put down a marker against Hayes’ side going into this game. The Chelsea boss commented following last weekend’s defeat in Germany on how the tie wasn’t won in the first leg and how important the away goal from Melanie Leupolz could become for her side.
Chelsea were once again without Maren Mjelde but captain Magda Eriksson returned to the starting XI after missing the previous two games. She was one of two changes to the Chelsea side that featured in Germany a week ago with Niamh Charles also returning.
Bayern boss Jens Scheuer went with a more defensive approach to try and contain high intense pressure from the hosts but he made only the one change from their win last week, a move which saw top scorer Lea Schuller return to the starting XI in place of Simone Laudehr.
Chelsea started the game brilliantly and found themselves 1-0 up after 10 minutes through Kirby, as she played a brilliant one-two with striker Sam Kerr before finding a gap within the Bayern defence to superbly finish across Benkarth’s goal to level the tie on aggregate.
Chelsea dominated the first quarter of the game and they had good opportunities to double their lead, however, Jess Carter was in the right place at the right time to deny Lineth Beerensteyn from scoring Bayern’s equaliser against the run of play, getting in a vital block after the Dutch international was picked out in a central position.
Chelsea seemed to be in control but it took a moment of quality from the visitors to find their equaliser. Zadrazil’s long-range effort flew into the top right corner after a Bayern Munich corner kick wasn’t fully cleared away by the English side.
Bayern’s top scorer Schuller then had a chance to net a second goal for the visitors but she sent her effort wide of Ann-Katrin Berger’s right-hand post after being played clear through on goal.
Ji would go on to give Chelsea the lead once again on the day, levelling the aggregate score in the process. Her weak free-kick initially hit the Bayern wall before she got onto the rebound which bounced into the bottom-left corner, leaving Benkarth rooted to her line.
Chelsea had to ensure that they stay focused in the second half and Millie Bright made a brilliant block to deny Lohmann from levelling the game for a second time, diverting her goal-bound header out for a corner after being picked out at the far post.
Both sides had a fairly quiet second half with the best chance falling to Kerr as she headed down from an out-swinging corner from Carter but she lacked the power to force Benkarth into a save.
The game looked destined for extra-time until Harder found what looked to be the goal that would send Chelsea into their first-ever UEFA Women’s Champions League final when she headed home from a Carter free kick on the right.
Kerr had another chance to further wound a determined Bayern side but she sent an effort wide as the match entered injury time after being played clear through on goal.
Kirby did add a further Chelsea goal to make it 4-1 moments before the full-time whistle as she ran half the length of the field to roll the ball into an empty net after Bayern had sent every player forward including their goalkeeper in the hope of finding a goal themselves which would send them into the final.
The victory for Chelsea means that they will take on Barcelona in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final on Sunday 16 May after the Spanish side overcame Paris Saint-Germain in the other semi-final tie.