Chelsea easily defeated Paris FC in the Champions League group stage, maintaining a perfect record and securing their spot in the quarter-finals. Fran Kirby, Mia Fishel, Guro Reiten, and Maren Mjelde all scored goals, with Jelena Cankovic providing two assists. This 4-0 victory also resulted in Paris FC being eliminated from the tournament.
“The performance was a display of maturity, with clinical execution and six opportunities resulting in four goals,” stated Emma Hayes, manager of Chelsea. She also highlighted the contribution of younger players who have not had much playing time in the Champions League, showcasing the depth and talent of their squad.
Paris FC’s hopes of achieving a historic feat by advancing to the knockouts for the first time since the 2012-13 season were dashed. This was the last time they made it to the semi-finals, when they were known as FC Juvisy.
The team had put in a lot of effort to prepare for this event, creating videos and displaying banners and posters throughout the city to attract a large crowd at Stade Sébastien Charléty. By making it to the group stage, the team eliminated strong opponents like Arsenal and Wolfsburg, and even won against Real Madrid twice, giving them a chance to move on from the group stage. However, in order to advance, they not only needed a good performance, but also for Häcken to not gain any points against Real Madrid.
The invitation for the public to attend was met with a positive response, but the task at hand proved to be too challenging. While Chelsea may have already secured their qualification beforehand, there were many players eager to earn a spot in the starting lineup and keep their momentum going. As a result, the English champions did not back down.
Hayes seized the chance to rotate, implementing nine alterations to the squad that triumphed over Brighton 3-0 on Saturday. Only Ève Périsset and Kirby maintained their starting positions, with Aggie Beever-Jones earning her first appearance in the Champions League. Paris FC also made seven changes to their lineup from their 2-0 victory against Le Havre on Sunday.
Chelsea’s performance was not the smoothest, as making multiple changes to the team can have that impact. However, they were effective in finding opportunities in the attacking third, something that their opponents struggled with.
Hayes stated that the squad’s development was influenced by their failures. They recognized the importance of having a high standard of quality in order to compete in all aspects. Making sacrifices in terms of personal playing time may be necessary in order to achieve success and win medals at the end of the season.
In the 10th minute, they took the lead when Cankovic passed a well-placed ball from the left to Kirby at the far post. The 5ft 2in forward then scored an unmarked header.
Paris had chances to equalize during the match. Mathilde Bourdieu took a shot that was saved by Chelsea’s goalkeeper Zecira Musovic, and Clara Matéo missed a chance after getting past the defense.
The Blues, who were on a trip, were penalized for their wastefulness. Beever-Jones received a long pass, possibly while in an offside position, made it to the goal line, and crossed the ball to Cankovic. The Serbian player then kicked the ball towards Fishel, who headed it into the goal past Chiamaka Nnadozie, who could have performed better.
In the second half, Paris had a great opportunity to decrease the difference in score, but Julie Dufour missed from a short distance. As their chances of winning diminished, Chelsea took advantage and scored again in the middle of the half. Substitute Reiten capitalized on a mistake between Julie Soyer and Nnadozie to score. Mjelde added to the lead by heading in a goal from a corner by Reiten with just over 10 minutes left. The task was completed.