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Chelsea 4 Bayern Munich 1 (5-3 on aggregate)
A brace from Fran Kirby and goals from Ji and Pernille Harder send Chelsea through
Bayern equalised with a screamer from Sarah Zadrazil
Emma Hayes' team will face Barcelona in Gothenburg
After the initial euphoria of ending Britain’s 14-year wait for a women’s European finalist, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes’ thoughts turned to memories of her nine-year-old self kicking a ball around on the streets of Camden and simply said: “Oh my God, my dreams came true today,” as she sipped a glass of champagne.
First, though, came scenes of unbridled joy, after late goals from Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby settled an absorbing semi-final as Chelsea broke Bayern Munich’s hearts on an enthralling afternoon at Kingsmeadow which will live long in the memory.
Chelsea’s 5-3 aggregate victory put them in the final for the first time in their history and made them Britain’s second ever finalists, following Arsenal’s quadruple-winning side of 2007, as well as keeping Hayes’ team in contention for a quartet of trophies this term.
They will face Barcelona in a mouthwatering Women’s Champions League final in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 16th May, after the Catalan giants knocked out Paris Saint-Germain in Sunday’s other semi-final, the same stage that Chelsea were eliminated at in 2018 and 2019.
“Of course I want to win the final but I am going to acknowledge the achievement of making history by getting there, because we put 1000s of hours into what we do,” Hayes said. “I'm overwhelmed with emotion. I can't describe it.
“I almost can't even let the tears go. How do I describe the pride I have for the club I represent, for the people I represent? I'm so happy for everyone, everybody who's really, really helped get us to this point.”
The 44-year-old then pulled out her phone to show the heart-rate monitor on the screen and scrolled to the tracker’s highest point on the curve, which seemingly coincided with Kirby’s stoppage-time goal that finally sealed Chelsea’s place in the final with the last kick of a tremendous contest.
Trailing 2-1 after conceding what Hayes had described as “two poor goals” in the first leg in Munich, Chelsea’s manager had vowed to “take the game to Bayern Munich” and they did exactly that, opening the scoring at Kingsmeadow after Sam Kerr combined seamlessly with her supremely intelligent strike partner Kirby in a quick breakaway that led to Kirby clipping the ball past goalkeeper Laura Benkarth.
Bayern struck back with a breath-taking, goal-of-the-season contender. From a short corner, Austria’s Sarah Zadrazil collected the ball outside the box and swerved an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net. Chelsea were stunned. But they levelled the tie on aggregate before half-time when South Korea's Ji angled into the bottom corner on the rebound from her own free-kick, which had struck the wall and bounced straight back to her, before a tense second half which could easily have swung either way.
The moment of Chelsea’s dreams came with six minutes of normal time remaining, as right-back Jess Carter delivered an inch-perfect, near-post cross for Denmark captain Harder - who was signed for a world record fee in excess of £250,000 last summer from last season’s finalists Wolfsburg - to deftly nod in the decisive goal. Bayern responded and bombarded Chelsea’s goal but were thwarted by block after block, as Chelsea put their bodies on the line.
Then, with even keeper Benkarth forward in the final minute of stoppage time, Chelsea broke clear and Kirby slotted into an empty net to trigger delirious celebrations.
For Bayern Munich, who were thwarted by repeated clearances off the line at the other end, the despair was clear. Their disconsolate head coach Jens Scheuer said: “We’re very disappointed. Chelsea put in a better performance but they were not the best team over the two matches. They were more clinical today. We committed too many individual mistakes and we were made to pay for it. We created four or five good opportunities and we just weren’t clinical enough.”
In contrast, Chelsea appear capable of finding the net at will, when it really matters. They have not failed to find the net in a competitive fixture since April 2019 and with Kerr, Kirby and Harder up front that statistic appears unlikely to change anytime soon.
They have already lifted the League Cup this season and will add the Women’s Super League next Sunday if they win both of their remaining games, away to Tottenham on Wednesday and at home to Reading on 9th May. But after that, a chance to claim sporting immortality awaits in the game of their lives against Barcelona.
Hayes said it had been “too long” since Britain had a finalist, adding: “When I drove in today I just kept thinking ‘we will not lose, we will not lose’ and it became my mantra during the game. I’ve played this [moment] out in the Curnock Street estate, I entered that pitch every day as a nine year old about to play in the Champions League final. Oh my god my dreams came true today.
“I wanted today so badly. Fair play to Bayern, they were a tremendous opponent, but the resilience in this group is just so unbelievable. It's yet another proud day to be the manager of this team."
Chelsea (4-3-3): Berger 7; Carter 8, Bright 6, Ericsson 7, Charles 7; Ingle 6, Ji 8, Leupolz 6 (Cuthbert, 88); Kirby 8, Kerr 7, Harder 8 (Spence, 0-+2)
Subs not used: Musovic (g), Telford (g), Blundell, England, Reite, Fleming, Andersson, Fox
Yellow cards: Carter
Bayern Munich (4-3-3): Benkarth 6; Glas 6, Ilestedt 6 (Laudehr, 87), Hegering 7, Simon 7 (Wenninger 76); Zadrazil 9, Lohmann 8 (Asseyi 77), Magull 7; Buhl 7, Schuller 6 (Dallmann, 61), Beerensteyn 7
Subs not used: Grohs (g), Lehmann (g), Boye Sorensen, Corley, Vilhjalmsdottir
Yellow cards: Magull, Simon, Beerensteyn
Referee: Esther Staubli (Switzerland)
Tom Garry's verdict
Chelsea's joy is unbridled. British women's football's 14-year wait for a European finalist is finally over, and you have to say it's fully deserved. From their composure up front to their brave, bodies-on-the-line defending at the other end, Chelsea have been magnificent. Everybody in blue has found somebody to hug. Emma Hayes can't believe it. It's Chelsea's day at last.
FT: Chelsea 4 Bayern 1
A more even contest than the scoreline suggests, and a pulsating one, but Chelsea produced moments of real quality in the attacking third and defensive resilience at the other. They will face Barcelona in the Champions League final in Gothenburg.
GOOOOOOAALLL! Kirby scores and that's full time
They were close to conceding at one end, but are now through to their first ever Champions League final. Emotional celebrations between Emma Hayes and her staff.
Bayern still had time for one last attack and Beeresteyn won a free header in the box which deflected off Eriksson.
Chelsea just about the scramble clear after an almighty scrap in the area, and now the Bayern goalkeeper is stranded and Kirby is away, running through on goal.
Cuthbert has taken the ball into the corner. Chelsea are 20 seconds or so from the final.
The Bayern goalkeeper is up for a corner and shots are raining down in the Chelsea goal. Block after block denies the German side,then Kirby - Chelsea's standout player - earns precious respite.
Chelsea are three added minutes from the final!
What a chance to wrap it up for Chelsea and Sam Kerr! She had so much time to think as she ran beyond the Bayern defence, too much perhaps, and side-footed the ball wide with the goal gaping.
Bayern come forward again and win a corner. Berger punches away.
Then the ball runs free for Buhl in the area and her low shot is on target. Berger saves brilliantly with her feet and Chelsea defend heroically when Beeresteyn looked set to tap home. Brilliant goalkeepering.
Hayes is screaming at her players to keep their heads and manage the game. They just need to avoid conceding an away goal. Laudehr is on for Bayern now.
More from Tom Garry
That's a peach of a delivery from Jess Carter. Chelsea are on the brink! And while the hosts' entire bench was going barmy, Emma Hayes reacted to one of the biggest goals of her managerial career by running to try and grab a substitute. Talk about focus! Erin Cuthbert is coming on.
GOOOOOAAALLL! Chelsea lead on aggregate!
Carter drove the ball towards the near post and Harder made a dart across the Bayern defenders and glanced the ball into the far corner. Chelsea through as it stands! Just need to avoid conceding.
Really late challenge on Carter from Beeresteyn and it gives Chelsea a free-kick in a really dangerous position. Just to the right of the penalty area.
Bayern pump another free-kick into the box but Kerr hooks clear for a throw. A Bayern goal now and the Champions League dream will surely be over for Chelsea.
Harder, Kirby and Kerr almost combine to brilliant effect on the break but Hegerin was in the right place at the right time to head behind. The tension is unbearable!
Kerr with another cross but the Bayern centre-backs have been pretty commanding throughout.
Oh my goodness, Leupolz goes close to a disastrous own goal, hammering the ball beyond her goalkeeper with a lumpy backpass from halfway. It trickled just wide of the post for a corner and Chelsea win a foul at the set-piece.
We are back under way and heading for extra time as things stand. Chelsea have the ball in Bayern territory though and a throw in. Bayern making a double sub to add fresh legs.
A bit of a stoppage in play after Kerr catches SImon on the top of the foot.
Kirby whips in another cross from the right but Hegerin hammers it away. A more encouraging passage of play from Chelsea though.
Tom Garry on Charles' impressive performance
Playing alongside all of Chelsea's experienced, world-renowned names, 21-year-old Niamh Charles has been extremely composed in such a big game, filling in at left-back. Buhl and the overlapping Glas - who were both so threatening last Sunday - have been handled superbly by the relative youngster.
Ji does well to wriggle out of a tight spot in midfield but she misplaces a pass and Beerensteyn is away on the break, but she elects to shoot early Bright blocks. Bayern are working some good triangles down their right and getting in behind but Ji gets back to intercept.
Charles defends very well at right-back for Chelsea. Kerr gallops down the left and pulls back a chipped cross but Ingle's striker was blocked. Then Ingle clipped another ball in that just evaded Harder. Better from the home team.
The game see-saws back in Bayern's direction, and they get to the bar-line through Dallmann but Eriksson is well positioned at the near post to cut out the low cross. Bright gets a flick to the corner, and Bayern get another chance to swing the ball in.
Beeresteyn tries her luck on the opposite flank but Charles defends well. Bayern are the team to make the first sub: Schuller is coming off for Dallmann.
The game is getting really stretched now and Leopulz's cross is flapped away by Benkarth under little pressure. The resulting corner is too close to the Chelsea goalkeeper, though.
The view from our man at Kingsmeadow Tom Garry
There are so many support staff here watching Chelsea, it feels like there's a small crowd. It's certainly the largest 'attendance' for a women's game in England that I've seen so far in 2021, despite the absence of fans, and you'd imagine it is spurring the hosts on. Whenever they break forward, there's a little ripple of encouragement from this stand. Conversely though, there's real tension and nervousness anytime Bayern are on the attack. Everybody knows, if Bayern score again, that could be it.
Chelsea's turn to pen Bayern in their half. Ingle plays a good pass into the feet of Kirby but Bayern's defence stands firm.
Ji clips a ball in to the back post but Bayern's goalkeeper claims with ease. No way is this game finishing 2-1, both teams are committing players forward and there is too much individual quality on the pitch. Famous last words!
Bayern with another another corner but Bright smashes clear at the second attempt. Beeresteyn threatens to skin Carter on the outside but the defender adjusted her position. Then it's Chelsea's turn to come forward and Kirby's shot deflects behind for a corner.
Bayern have started on the front foot and have an early free-kick some 30 yards out. Magull whips it in but it's a clean catch from Berger in the Chelsea goal.
We're back under way
Bayern get us started knowing another away goal would leave Chelsea needing two.
Bayern's goal was a goal of the season contender
HT: Chelsea 2 Bayern 1
A really entertaining contest with two corking goals and a slightly fortuitous one from Ji but Chelsea have the lead. More of that after the break please.
This is the only score that could take us to extra time. Berger comes off her line to sweep up well and claim.
GOOOOOAAALl! Ji scores at the second attempt
The initial effort was tamely stuck into the wall, but Ji followed up and stuck the second effort into the ground and it bobbled though bodies and rolled into the bottom corner. Benkarth was rooted.
That was a lovely Chelsea move with really crisp passing. Ingle started it by fizzing the ball forward, and Magull caught Kirby on the foot to concede a free-kick right of centre around 25 yards out. Yellow card for the Bayern captain.
Chelsea working the ball well from the left flank to the inside, and Ji's shot from range flicks off the head of Hegerin for a corner. Bayern clear and inch towards half time.
Oh what a chance for Bayern to possibly bury the tie! Chelsea gave the ball away in midfield and Bayern had a three against two on the break. Beerensteyn slipped the ball to Shuller on her left who fired wide of the near post with her left foot.
Chelsea have looked at their best through Kirby down the right. This time Harder finds her with a good pass in behind but the low cross was cut out.
The game is perfectly poised now. Bright plays a raking diagonal out to Charles on the Chelsea left. Lays the ball inside to Ji who exchanged passes with Kerr, and went down in the area looking for a penalty. Looked soft and the referee waves it away.
Testing moments for Chelsea as Bayern have a corner. Some pin ball in the area but Chelsea hook clear, before some good counter-pressing from Bayern sustains the pressure.
That was Zadrazil's first ever Champions League goal, incredibly. The ball sat up nicely for her and she cut across it very deliberately to fade it away from the goalkeeper's dive. A test of Chelsea's resolve now.
GOOOOAALL! Zadrazil with an absolute screamer
Bayern have their away goal and it is a spectacular strike from distance. The ball dropped to Zadrazil 30 yards or so out, she took a touch to transfer the ball to her right foot and rifled a shot in off the underside of the cross bar. No chance for Berger in the Chelsea goal.
Harder lays the ball off at the edge of the area but Kirby gets the shot all wrong. Magull whips in a good deliver from a wide free-kick but Chelsea keep their concentration and head behind for a corner.
Chelsea probing down the Bayern right again, occupying the full-back Glas. The game has had a good intensity to it. Foul given in midfield after a Bayern foul on Harder. It was a late challenge from the Bayern captain Magull.
Chelsea keep the pressure on after the corner is cleared, and more good work from Kirby down the right wins a second corner. Bayern deal with the set-piece though. Strong defending from Carter up against Beerensteyn.
Bayern played a back five in the first leg and did well to stifle Chelsea, but they are using a 4-3-3 today which is leaving their defenders more exposed. Brilliant cross from Leupolz that Kerr looked set to glance home but the Bayern defender got a touch.
Chelsea picking their moments but whenever they do come forward their star attackers have space and look dangerous. Bayern have to chase an away goal of their own now. Chelsea settling into a longer period of possession now.
Bayern come close to an equaliser. Sloppy from Chelsea when defending a long throw and the ball ran free for Beerensteyn eight yards out but Bright got half a block in and it deflected over. Good chance gone.
That was really incisive play from Chelsea. They did not miss a pass or a first touch in the entire move, it was almost surgical. They are on the front foot again with Kirby down the right but her cross evades everyone. Then Ingle drives a shot over from distance.
GOOOOAALLL! Kirby gives Chelsea an early lead
A wonderful, sweeping counter-attack from deep in the Chelsea half. Kirby and Kerr combined well in the build up, Kerr waited for her strike partner to arrive and slipped a well-weighted pass into the penalty area and Kirby finished with a nice dink over the goalkeeper.
Bayern showing good composure with the ball but Simon's long ball towards Schuller was too strong. Speculative shot from range from Harder but it is high, wide and handsome.
Nice passing through midfield from Bayern but the attempted through ball towards Beerensteyn was too strong. Bright with a good intervention but then Harder concedes a foul in her own half and Bayern get the chance to send bodies into the box.
Positive start from Chelsea, seeing most of the ball but Bayern attack with menace as the Chelsea back-line backs off inviting trouble. Carter did well to get a block in. It looks like there will be goals in this game based on the early action.
Chelsea play a long ball forward straight from kick off, looking to gain territory. Ji penalised for a foul in midfield but Chelsea get back on the front foot thanks to Kirby's spin in behind in the right channel.
They got a little lucky with a ricochet but Ji stood up a dangerous cross to the back post but Glas did really well to head clear at the back post.
Chelsea captain Eriksson gives the universal sign for "lots of talking" to her team-mates and Chelsea get us under way looking for a fast start.
The players are on their way out
A momentous occasion for Chelsea as they attempt to reach their first Champions League final. So much attacking talent in the team with Ji, Kerr, Harder and Co but they need to make it count.
Bayern go through their paces
Emma Hayes speaks
Everyone comes to work for days like this, when you think of the sacrifices people make with family holidays and playing over Christmas - it's for days like this.We're so used to playing every three days, this is the first time we've had a week off.
Huge for Chelsea that Eriksson is back in defence
Millie Bright on Chelsea's quest for a league and Champions League double
"It's a season we wanted to be winners in. No matter what trophy we're competing for, we always want to lift that trophy. What we're aiming to do remains the same. It's to push one another every single day and not to settle for what we've done. We always want more."
Chelsea back at the semi-final stage
They have reached the Champions League last four on two previous occasions, last doing so when they met an all-conquering Lyon side in 2019.
Just like this year, they lost the away leg 2-1 before only mustering a 1-1 draw at Kingsmeadow. They need to go one better today.
Bayern Munich team and subs
Starting XI: Benkarth; Glas, Ilestedt, Hegerin, Simon; Lohmann, Zadrazil, Magull; Schuller, Buhl, Beerensteyn
Subs: Grohs, Lehmann, Boye Sorensen, Corley, Dallmann, Asseyi, Wenninger, Laudehr, Vilhjalmsdottir.
Chelsea team and subs: Skipper Magdalena Eriksson returns to the defence
Starting XI: Berger; Carter, Bright, Eriksson, Charles; Ingle, Leupolz, Ji; Kirby, Kerr, Harder
Subs: Musovic, Telford, Blundell, England, Reiten, Fleming, Cuthbert, Spence, J Andersson, Fox
Can Chelsea turn the tie around?
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes is determined to lead her side to their part of a Champions League double at the London club.
Both the women's and men's teams are targeting European glory as they get set for semi-final second legs.
Hayes' side take on Bayern Munich at Kingsmeadow on Sunday, trailing 2-1 from last weekend's Women's Champions League first leg in Germany.
Thomas Tuchel's men's team then face Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge in their competition on Wednesday, having drawn 1-1 in Spain last week.
Asked about the two matches and Tuchel, Hayes told a press conference: "I had a lovely encounter with Thomas Tuchel. He's a fantastic guy, a really open-minded, progressive coach.
"There's a reason why the men's team are performing like they are, and if we can mirror that success, side by side, how fantastic that would be.
"I've always said this about Chelsea - we always talk about winning in this place, that's what comes with the territory.
"We don't mind the pressure, the expectations, the tags, the titles, whatever comes with it, we just know we're a club that want to be in winning positions.
"And it's great to think that both the men's and women's teams have reached these stages, but as I'll always say, we're about winning things, not just getting here."
She added of Tuchel: "He loves the team, he knows women's football.
"We had a chat about his time at Paris St Germain, and we just exchanged conversation in and around Chelsea to be honest with you.
"I've been here a long time so I welcomed him to the club, and I'm really excited about him being here. He's a top coach. I'm sure there'll be plenty of interactions between us in his time."
Hayes has been in charge at Chelsea since 2012, guiding the club to numerous pieces of silverware.
That includes winning three Women's Super League titles, with a strong chance of adding a fourth in the next week, two FA Cups and two Continental League Cups - which they successfully defended in February.
The club are aiming for a first Women's Champions League final appearance, having been beaten semi-finalists twice before, in 2018 and 2019.
Full team news on the way shortly.