My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
A single goal from the ‘Mini-Messi’ Fran Kirby separated Chelsea and Glasgow City after a tense first leg in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Round of 32. In a game with few chances, the first shot on target turned out to be the opening goal in the 39th minute. Kirby turned her defender and then launched a powerfully driven shot that gave City’s keeper Lee Alexander absolutely no chance.
City’s best chance came early in the second half as a well-worked set piece gave Kerry Montgomery an opportunity from 10 yards out, but she somehow blasted the ball over the crossbar. Both sides knew the importance of the next goal, and that brought about a real tension, but Chelsea had the better of the chances with Kirby, Ana Borges and Millie Bright all forcing Alexander into saves. Late on City had a decent chance, but Denise O’Sullivan’s shot was straight at Chelsea keeper Hedvig Lindahl.
The second leg will be played on Wednesday 14th October, at Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie.
Chelsea came out of the traps in the opening minutes, looking to exploit the dangers of their front four, but were limited to half-chances in the box which the City defence dealt with. City had set up in a 4-1-4-1 formation to restrain Chelsea’s attacking threats.
City themselves could have taken the lead against the run of play when great play down the right between Leanne Ross and Abbi Grant sent Ross free. She drilled a dangerous ball across the six-yard box, looking for Densie O’Sullivan, but Gilly Flaherty made the vital interception which allowed Lindahl to claim.
City came even closer when a wonderful run down the left from Hayley Lauder allowed her cross to pick out Abbi Grant, but her first touch was too heavy which allowed Claire Rafferty. Then a training-ground corner routine was cleared by Chelsea to Erin Cuthbert, but her long-range effort went wide.
But Chelsea continued to create chances, with Chelsea getting the ball in City’s box with Aluko and Kirby both trying to get a shot off. City’s defence originally dealt with the danger but Kirby did get a shot off eventually which hit Rachel Corsie, with some half-hearted appeals for a penalty.
And then Chelsea took the lead. Kirby picked up the ball about 30 yards from goal, span Cheryl McCulloch before breaking to the edge of the box where she unleashed a piledriver, which smashed off the underside of the bar and over the line, giving Alexander no chance.
Late on in the first half, Eniola Aluko had a chance, but in the box, the ball got stuck under her feet and in the end, her shot was an easy save for Alexander.
City came out strongly in the second half, playing closer to their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, and within three minutes could and should have equalised from a City free-kick 35 yards from goal. Leanne Ross curled the ball to the far post, Corsie headed the ball down to the unmarked Kerry Montgomery who blasted her first-time effort well over the crossbar.
Slowly though, Chelsea regained their footing of the tie. Gemma Davison found herself in lots of space and tried her luck from distance but her shot was skewed wide of the far post. Then, from a free-kick on the right-wing, Drew Spence launched a free-kick to the far post where there were a crowd of players, Alexander palmed the ball down towards Kirby who literally blasted the ball out of the stadium.
They came even closer as patient build-up developed room down the right, where Kirby whipped in a delightful cross which picked out Ji Soyun, but she shinned the ball over.
Millie Bright’s half-volley forced Alexander into a super save, before Ana Borges saw her weak shot easily saved.
City still posed a threat, and the impressive O’Sullivan did well to make room on the edge of the Chelsea box, but could only shoot over.
In the closing moments, the game became end-to-end, with Borges breaking into the City box and forcing Alexander into a great save. Then a misclearance from Chelsea’s Hannah Blundell set up O’Sullivan, but her effort was too close to Lindahl.
And then, with the last move of the game, Kirby tried blast the ball into the top of the net, but Alexander expertly caught the ball.
Chelsea Ladies: (4-2-1-3): Hedvig Lindahl, Hannah Blundell, Gilly Flaherty (c), Niamh Fahey, Claire Rafferty, Drew Spence (Laura Coombs 81), Millie Bright, Ji So-yun, Gemma Davison, Fran Kirby, Eniola Aluko (Ana Borges 69).
Goal: Fran Kirby 39.
Subs not Used: Anne Meiwald, Katie Chapman, Jodie Brett, Rosella Ayane, Marie Hourihan (GK).
Glasgow City: (4-2-3-1): Lee Alexander, Leanne Ross (c), Rachel Corsie, Cheryl McCulloch, Nicola Docherty, Erin Cuthbert (Clare Shine 73), Jo Love (Georgie Rafferty 89), Abbi Grant, Kerry Montgomery, Hayley Lauder, Denise O’Sullivan.
Booked: Kerry Motgomery 61.
Subs not Used: Rhonda Jones, Courtney Whyte, Lauren McMurchie, Julie Fleeting.
Referee: Olga Zadinova (Czech Republic)