Chelsea secure place in Women’s Champions League semi-finals –
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Chelsea secure place in Women’s Champions League semi-finals



With Chelsea currently leading the WSL, set to contest the Conti Cup final on Sunday and then the FA Cup semi-finals in mid-April, the dream of a quadruple remains within Hayes’ grasp.

The rotated Blues successfully saw off Ajax in their quarter-final tie, drawing 1-1 on the night after already doing the bulk of the work with a 3-0 first leg victory in Amsterdam a week ago.

Chelsea were defensively shaky in the early stages at Stamford Bridge and could have seen their aggregate lead cut into on a few occasions, notably when Romee Leuchter missed a glorious chance and then as Tiny Hoekstra charged down a clearance from goalkeeper Zecira Musovic.

Any growing nerves from those on the pitch, in the dugout and in the stands were eased when Mayra Ramirez, potentially the world’s second most expensive player if all the add-ons included in her £425,000 transfer from Levante are met, calmly finished from Guro Reiten’s pass.

That goal took the tie beyond Ajax, but the Dutch visitors still sensed blood and the potential for a famous result at Stamford Bridge. Chasity Grant was the grateful recipient of some more suspect goalkeeping from Musovic, back in the side after losing her usual starting place earlier this season, when a tame finish slipped through the Swede’s hands.


As it happens, Musovic made a world class save 15 minutes later to deny Ajax the lead on the night, acrobatically tipping Leuchter’s curling finish wide of the far post. She seemed determined not to let the visitors past her again and another stunning save at the end kept out substitute Danique Tolhoek.

Hayes won this competition during its UEFA Women’s Cup guise while an assistant coach at Arsenal back in 2007. But it remains the only trophy missing from the trophy cabinet she has built at Chelsea, coming closest in 2021 when her team reached the final, only to be demolished 4-1 by Barcelona.

With the full knockout bracket mapped out when the quarter-final draw was made, Chelsea are expected to face Barcelona in the last four. The reigning European champions have not yet secured their semi-final place but hold a 2-1 aggregate lead over Norwegian side SK Brann ahead of Thursday night’s second leg at the Johan Cruyff Stadium. Brann did incredibly well to frustrate the likes of Aitana Bonmati and Caroline Graham Hansen, but Barca are heavy favourites at home.

Eight-time Champions League winners Lyon have booked their place in the other semi-final after a 6-2 aggregate win over Benfica. They will meet domestic rivals Paris Saint-Germain or Swedish side BK Hacken in the last four, with PSG leading that tie 2-1 ahead of Thursday’s decisive leg in France.

This season’s final will be staged at the 53,000-capacity San Mames in Bilbao on Saturday 25 May. Last season’s final between Barcelona and Wolfsburg, watched by 33,147 fans at Philips Stadion in Eindhoven, was the first time the showpiece event had sold out its host venue, while the record attendance for a final is 50,212 when Lyon beat FFC Frankfurt at Munich’s Olympiastadion in 2012.

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