Poised for Euro success

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Chelsea Ladies celebrate Fran Kirby’s goal against Rosengard on November 8

Chelsea Ladies are poised to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League for the first time in their history after a convincing 3-0 victory at Kingsmeadow.
They travel to Sweden next week for the second leg of the Round of 16 tie confident that if they repeat the performance of November 8 under the floodlights they will progress to the most exciting phase of the competition, next March.
Fran Kirby finally achieved the breakthrough with a superb individual goal after 33 minutes on a chilly night, evading three Rosengard defenders before firing home superbly past the despairing dive of Zecira Musovic… a young keeper tipped by many to eventually claim the Swedish No1 shirt from her counterpart tonight, Hedvig Lindahl.
After weathering a strong second-half fightback by the team from Malmo, Chelsea turned on the pressure again to notch a second in the 65th minute; Ramona Bachmann scoring before defender Gilly Flaherty became an unlikely third name on target nine minutes later to make the final score 3-0.
In front of a crowd of 1,861, Chelsea Ladies underlined once again how Kingsmeadow has become a new fortress for the club.
Emma Hayes brought Ji So-Yun and Crystal Dunn into the team instead of Hannah Blundell and Drew Spence from the side that had eased past Bayern Munich in the last round.
Dunn proved to be the woman of the match in the first half, with a string of spectacular runs down the left flank, bamboozling opponents with her speed and agility.
The Blues’ longest serving player, Claire Rafferty, watching from the press box, said before the match that Chelsea’s task was “to take a couple of goals to Sweden”.
And Chelsea delivered.
Rosengard, whose kit sponsorship included bizarre and rather undignified ‘posterior adverts’, were tough opponents – and will prove tricky at home in Malmo next Wednesday. But the Blues have given themselves the best possible chance of progressing to the last stages of the Champions League.
Next up for the Blues, before the trip to Sweden, Reading away in the league.