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  • Writer's pictureBethany Barker

Chelsea vs Brighton: Blues Round up a week of wins

Chelsea secured their place in the Champions League quarter-finals and extended their league lead.

Sunday 28th January 2023

 

James masterclass against United:

The home side started well, with an increasing attacking pressure which allowed them to take advantage of the poor start of United. In the fifth minute, Lauren James struck an outside foot finish into the goal, past Mary Earps, to give them the 1-0 advantage. The lead was doubled after new signing, Nathalie Bjorn who recently signed from Everton, found James with an over-the-top ball, resulting in a powerful twenty-third-minute half-volley. 


Towards the end of the first half Manchester United did grow into the game as Hayley Ladd got a forty-third-minute goal. The visitors then restarted with the same pressure they ended with, putting Chelsea under it but were unable to convert any chances to goal.


Any chance of a comeback was killed by another Lauren James goal, giving her another hat-trick and one against her former club, in the eighty-fifth minute, as she fired the ball to the bottom corner.


"It's always tough playing against Manchester United, but with the fans behind us at Stamford Bridge we love playing here. Our performance from the start today, you could tell everyone was up for it.”

(Goal scorer- Lauren James- Speaking to BBC Sport)



Topping the group:

In their second consecutive outing at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea faced Real Madrid in their last home Champions League group game. After a slow start from both teams with nothing to separate them after a tight opening 45 minutes, the home side struggled with their finishing precision but the visitors' defence started to crack as the second half started.


The Blues started the second half confidently attempting to break the deadlock and following a foul by Hayley Raso on Niamh Charles, Guro Reiten fired her side in front as she stepped up and slotted the penalty into the bottom corner. The lead didn't last long, as the Spaniards drew when Athenea del Castillo was able to rebound a save from Hannah Hampton, who made her Champions League debut, after a save from Raso's initial effort. Chelsea were then back in front, eight minutes after the opening goal, after Erin Cuthbert's (captain for the game) attempted low cross was deflected up off a defender, palmed into the Real Madrid goal by goalkeeper Mylene Chavas. This win meant that even with one game left to play (against Paris FC on the 30th January) the London side tops group D.



A dominant second-half display:

The weekend's first WSL game saw leaders, Chelsea, extend the gap by six after Lauren James scored two, either side of a Fran Kirby goal in a 13-minute window, against Brighton at Broadfield Stadium, which put them six points ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal, before the games today.


With several missed chances in the first half, Chelsea started slowly under the increased pressure of the Seagulls, putting the visitors under as they played out from the back, before James, once again, put them ahead within a minute of the restart from a first-time strike just inside the box, from Niamh Charles' (captain for this game) low cross across the box, which gets Charles' assist record up to four this season. The lead was doubled through Fran Kirby whose hard work paid off as she guided a finish into the top corner from a close-range header which was assisted by Melanie Leupolz with a headed pass following a corner. Kirby's goal was her first goal in 3 months after returning from injury. Within the 58th minute, James bagged another goal through a right-footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner, which gives her a total of 6 in her last 3 successive WSL games.


Within a double change, with 25 minutes to go, Emma Hayes brought on Aggie Beever-Jones and new signing Mayra Ramirez, who joined the Blues this week from Levante on a 4 1/2-year deal.

Brighton and Hove


Chelsea

32

Possession (%)

68

5

Shots

20

2

Shots on target

9

"I think we’re looking solid and I think the team enjoyed the way we played today. I really enjoyed today. It was controlled, it looked like things we work on all of the time. It was a confident performance and I like the confidence within the team today. That’s certainly something I’m going to bottle and remind them of when we get back to work on Monday."

(Manager Emma Hayes speaking after the game)



Next up:

Champions League: 30th January vs Paris FC @ 5:45pm

WSL: 4th February vs Everton @ 6:45pm


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