• April 16, 2024

Women’s Champions League: Atletico Madrid 1-1 Chelsea (agg 1-3) – Maren Mjelde sends Blues through

Maren Mjelde was also at the goal from the penalty spot in the first leg

Maren Mjelde’s penalty helped Chelsea move into the women’s Champions League quarter-finals with a 3-1 aggregate win after Toni Duggan missed Atletico Madrid’s third penalty.

With the Blues 2-0 in the first leg, but under increasing pressure, England’s Duggan shot her penalty on the crossbar 15 minutes before the end.

But within three minutes Mjeldes cool penalty sealed the victory.

Emelyne Laurent’s stoppage-time goal was little consolation for Atletico.

Chelsea will find out their next Champions League opponents when the quarter-finals and semi-finals draws take place on Friday.

Atletico Madrid had no home advantage due to travel restrictions between Great Britain and Spain as the game was played in Monza, northern Italy, and was barely threatening before the break.

But they dominated the second half with two heavy penalty claims before Niamh Charles was punished for the handball.

English striker Duggan took on the penalty shoot-out after her teammates were denied two sensational penalties by Blues keeper Ann-Katrin Berger in a game vibrant first leg that Chelsea won despite playing with 10 players for almost 80 minutes.

Berger’s exploits were unnecessary this time as the ball fell back off the crossbar.

The penalty drama was not over, however, as substitute Chelsea player Guro Riding quickly won the tie’s fifth penalty. This one was far more controversial when the ball grazed Sonia Garcia’s side as Riding tried to run through.

Mjelde once again pointed the way from 12 yards before Laurent’s smooth sidefoot finish – the first the women’s Super League leader had conceded in nearly five full games – was a reward for the hosts’ impressive second half.

Attack the best form of defense

Fran Kirby in action for Chelsea against Atletico MadridFran Kirby hit the target in the first leg but Chelsea’s impressive attack was limited to just five attempts at Monza

An attacking line-up of Beth England, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder showed two-time semi-finalists Chelsea’s desire to make the draw undeniable rather than defend their hard-earned first-leg lead.

The positive approach worked almost early on, with Harder close on target with a croaking 25-yard attempt and Kirby shot past in the follow-up after Kerr’s low cross was nearly diverted into her own net by Grace Kazadi.

But the hosts were all the more threatening afterwards as the pace and direct run of Ludmila and the quality of Duggan caused regular problems.

Duggan had two decent long distance attempts at the gate, the first just missing and the second forcing Berger to make a nice stop.

Atletico’s pressure continued into the second half, but Millie Bright and Mjelde were firmly at the heart of an overhauled defense thanks to a combination of good defense and a generous referee.

The two penalties brought a hectic ending, but Chelsea were able to remain calm enough to make progress and maintain hopes of an early Champions League success.

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