Captain Erin Cuthbert secured Chelsea’s place in the Women’s Champions League quarter-final with a hard-fought, 2-1 victory over Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Chelsea manager Emma Heyes said: “We expect to go through, that’s our expectation, that’s our bare minimum, we should expect to go through as group winners.”
The winner came in the 70th minute when Cuthbert, who was influential all night, received the ball on the right and fired at goalkeeper Mylene Chavas from the byline, but Chavas could only parry the ball into her own net for an own goal.
Heyes said: “The equaliser is indicative of everything Erin is doing.
She deserves all the credit she’s getting because I think her form is tremendous right now.”
Chelsea first took the lead in the 62nd minute when left-back Niamh Charles won a penalty for the home side.
She received the ball on the left-hand side, chopped inside the box and was brought down by former Manchester City player Hayley Raso with a rash challenge.
Guro Reiten stepped up to take the spot kick, despite not being Chelsea’s normal penalty taker, and smashed the ball into the bottom right corner sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Half-time substitute Athenea del Castillo brought Madrid level in the 69th minute after Caroline Moller sent a long ball over Chelsea’s defence to Raso whose strike was saved by Hannah Hampton in goal, but the ball fell to Athenea, and she poked it into the net.
Madrid could have had a penalty when Linda Caicedo, the visitor’s most threatening player, neatly dribbled into the box and was heavily challenged by Kadeisha Buchanan with Jess Carter then accidentally standing on her.
Caicedo went off at half time and in the second half Madrid lacked the same threat that she brought, despite managing to score in the second half.
Real Madrid manager Alberto Toril said: “It was a small injury; we have many games ahead so there was no need to risk it.
I’m not sure if it was a penalty or not, it was too far away.”
The win guaranteed Chelsea’s place in the quarter-finals as winners of Group D, they are three points above BK Hacken in second and have a superior head-to-head record against them.
The Blue’s next game in the Champions League is against third-placed FC Paris next Wednesday, January 31, in the final group game of the competition.
Madrid, who were already out of the competition in bottom place before the game, will play BK Hacken at the same time next Wednesday.