Chelsea secured a 4-1 win over Paris FC at Stamford Bridge, thanks to three goals from Sam Kerr. The striker scored the first goal in the first half, but Paris FC equalized through Théa Gréboval. However, Kerr’s two goals in the second half within seven minutes helped Chelsea secure a crucial three points.
Kerr showed excellent scoring ability as she led her team while wearing the captain’s armband. Despite dealing with a calf injury since the World Cup, Kerr was able to shine under the spotlight. Her manager, Emma Hayes, believed she would score three goals in the game and praised her for her overall contributions on the field. While she may not be at peak performance yet, Hayes acknowledged that Kerr has a unique talent for putting the ball in the net and commended her quick and purposeful movements.
Chelsea showed resilience and maturity in their latest match as they strive to advance to the next round of the tournament. Chelsea’s coach, Hayes, highlighted their track record of success even when not playing at their best. She also praised the team’s ability to adapt and be tactically versatile.
The Blues were hoping to begin their Champions League journey successfully at home, following a disappointing 2-2 tie in Madrid. Playing as the hosts in the Champions League has been a positive factor in past years and Hayes’s team was starting to feel at ease at Stamford Bridge. They revisited West London for the second time in a week after defeating Liverpool 5-1 last Saturday.
Hayes altered the lineup that tied with Madrid by making two modifications. Due to a knee injury, Millie Bright was unable to play and was replaced by Kadeisha Buchanan, who joined Jess Carter as centre-back. Lauren James, who recently scored a hat-trick, took over for Fran Kirby to reunite with Niamh Charles, with whom she has been playing well.
Although Chelsea was considered the stronger team on paper, there were concerns about the threat of Paris FC. Sandrine Soubeyrand has been developing an impressive project that is starting to challenge the norm. They currently hold the second spot in Division 1 Féminine and made a big impact in Europe by eliminating Arsenal and Wolfsburg – the semi-finalists and runners-up from last season – during qualifying rounds.
Unfortunately, they faced disappointment in their first appearance at this level of the tournament, as they were defeated 2-1 by the Swedish team Häcken last week. Soubeyrand decided to make just one alteration to the lineup, bringing in Teninsoun Sissoko for Célina Ould Hocine on defence.
The match began uneventfully as both teams were cautious. Paris is known for their bold style of play, excelling in quick transitions and utilizing their wide players. They attempted to capitalize on this strategy early on, with Clara Matéo making runs down the right side and their captain, Gaëtane Thiney, controlling the midfield. Thiney’s skillful pass set up Mathilde Bourdieu for their first scoring opportunity, but her shot was saved by Ann-Katrin Berger.
As seen frequently this season, Chelsea’s danger originated from the left side and as the match progressed, Charles and James were able to establish control. James had a prime chance to score, but her shot was off target when facing Chiamaka Nnadozie one-on-one. She redeemed herself shortly after by getting past Daphné Corboz and setting up a pass for Kerr to score.
The home team almost scored a second goal, but Johanna Rytting Kaneryd was stopped by Nnadozie’s quick reflexes. This motivated Paris to keep fighting and they eventually found a chance to equalize. As halftime approached, they earned a corner kick which was skillfully crossed to the far post by Thiney. Gréboval jumped high and headed the ball into the goal, leaving Jess Carter helpless.
Chelsea came back determined to not make the same mistakes as last week and end the game. Kirby was substituted for Jessie Fleming, who had a quiet performance, in order to bring some creativity to the team.
In just 10 minutes after resuming, the home team had gained a comfortable lead of two goals with Kerr completing her hat-trick in impressive fashion.
Her second of the evening was an instinctive finish, holding her run perfectly to turn home Rytting Kaneryd’s well-placed cross. Her third was route-one football at its best. Breaking on to Berger’s launched ball, she used all her experience to hold off two defenders before dinking her shot perfectly over the backpedalling Nnadozie. The Nigeria goalkeeper got a hand to it but there was nothing she could do to keep it from its destination.
Paris’s resistance was broken by Chelsea’s goal, scored by Sophie Ingle in the closing minutes of the match. This win maintains Chelsea’s undefeated record, earning them four points from two challenging games. In the upcoming December fixtures, they will face Group D leaders, Häcken, at home.