From the 2015 FA Cup to beating Barça: Emma Hayes’s best Chelsea moments

<span>Sam Kerr takes a selfie as she celebrates with teammates following <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Chelsea;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Chelsea</a>’s 2022 FA Cup Final victory over <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Manchester City;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Manchester City</a> at Wembley Stadium.</span><span>Photograph: Eddie Keogh/The FA/Getty Images</span>

1) August 2015: first FA Cup win

Chelsea secured their inaugural FA Cup on a historic day with a 1-0 victory over Notts County. The final was held at Wembley Stadium for the first time and drew a record crowd of 30,710. They were firm favourites and it was a sole strike from Ji So-yun that proved the difference. Lifting the trophy would kickstart the winning haul under Hayes, the first of 13 major pieces of silverware she would pick up with the club.

2) October 2015: Chelsea secure first WSL trophy

Not so much a game that stands out but a whole season, which was capped by a 4-0 victory at home to Sunderland. Chelsea went into the final day knowing victory would secure them their first title win. They got the job done in style with a double from the prolific new signing Fran Kirby and goals from Ji and Gemma Davison. The win sealed an impressive domestic double with a display described by Hayes as “a champion’s performance”.

3) May 2018: beating Arsenal at Wembley

Hayes led Chelsea to their second FA Cup with a win over Arsenal. It was the heyday of the near-telepathic partnership between Ramona Bachmann and Kirby and they combined to tear their close rivals apart. It was an emotional victory for the Chelsea manager who was heavily pregnant. No one knew the grief she was going through, having lost one of her twins a few weeks earlier. Her son, Harry, was born shortly afterwards and she revealed what she had been through months later.

4) May 2021: winning the domestic treble

Chelsea continued their domination of English football in imperious fashion as they secured the domestic treble, plus the inaugural Community Shield. Having comprehensively beaten Bristol City to lift the League Cup, they proceeded to take their fourth WSL title with victory over Reading on the final day. In doing so, they broke the record for most points accumulated in a season. They would lift the FA Cup as well, beating Arsenal.

5) March 2021: ending the Wolfsburg curse

Wolfsburg fast became Hayes’s biggest obstacle as she looked to develop her team in European competition. For three seasons in a row between 2015 and 2018, the German side had knocked Chelsea out of the competition. They would put that demon to bed in the 2021-22 campaign as the Blues took full control over two quarter-final legs. In games staged in Budapest because of the pandemic, Hayes masterminded a 5-1 aggregate win.

6) March 2022: ‘Mentality Monsters’ strike again

The 2021-22 title run-in was a display of true willpower. With Roman Abramovich sanctioned, the club were in turmoil behind the scenes. Hosting Aston Villa, they knew they needed victory to keep it in their own hands. A resilient Villa thought they had done enough to gain a draw but it is rarely over where Chelsea are concerned. Resorting to route one football, Zecira Musovic launched the ball up to Kerr in the 92nd minute. Cue delirium – Kerr whipped her shirt off Brandi Chastain-style; Hayes ran down the touchline to join in the celebrations.

7) May 2022: Chelsea come through stern test

Chelsea secured their fourth FA Cup and third domestic double (excluding the treble they had won the previous year) after yet another edition of the intense Chelsea-Manchester City rivalry that has developed. The Blues had one hand on the Cup but then Hayley Raso equalised in the 89th minute. Their character shone through once more as they regrouped before the ever-reliable Kerr scored the winner in extra time.

8) May 2022: Kerr special seals third WSL title

As with so many of Chelsea’s championships, their 2021-22 win came down to the wire. They pipped Arsenal to the trophy on the final day by a single point. Hayes’s teams never know when they’re beaten and they came from behind twice in a memorable 4-2 victory over Manchester United. Two goals from Sam Kerr, including a stunning no-look volley, meant Chelsea became the first club to win the WSL three years in a row.

9) March 2023: 120th-minute penalty drama against Lyon

The dramatic finale to the 2022-23 quarter-final against Lyon will go down in Champions League history. Bringing a 1-0 lead back to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea lost their advantage when Vanessa Gilles equalised and sent the tie to extra-time. Sara Däbritz then fired home as Lyon looked destined for the semi-final but Maren Mjelde had other ideas. When the referee pointed to the spot in the 120th minute, the experienced Norwegian stepped up to coolly to slot home before repeating the feat in the shootout minutes later. Chelsea progressed 4-3 on penalties.

10) April 2024: ending Barcelona’s home run

It was one of the performances of her tenure. In April, Chelsea subjected Barcelona to their first home defeat since February 2019 with a tactical masterclass that delivered a 1-0 win in their semi-final first leg. Chelsea outpressed and outran the European champions with an energetic display. However, a spot in the final was not to be as Barça progressed after a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge but that win in the heat and cacophony of the Estadi Olímpic Lluis Companys will be remembered for ever.