Guro Reiten gives Chelsea quarter-final advantage over Lyon after first leg

·4-min read
<span>Photograph: Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Erin Cuthbert’s gut-busting drive to win the ball, nutmeg a defender and provide the no-look assist for Guro Reiten was the moment of magic Chelsea needed to take a slim but critical lead in their battle with the holders, Lyon, for a place in the Champions League semi-finals.

It was not the prettiest of performances from either side, which was reflective of the less-than-electric but efficient seasons the WSL and Ligue 1 leaders are having, but Cuthbert’s goal typified all aspects of her game.

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“Erin hasn’t played fully since the Continental Cup final,” said the Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes. “She has only been back in team training since Monday but we all know she has the heart of a lion and delivered the job we are used to seeing.

Related: Lyon 0-1 Chelsea: Women’s Champions League quarter-final – as it happened

“The players executed what we asked. [Lyon] have fabulous players, have won many games and are European champions for a reason. I am satisfied.”

A trip to the home of the holders and eight-time champions was never going to be easy. Yet this season the serial winners have struggled, their rhythm blighted.

However, the French giants still sit one point clear at the top of Ligue 1, are in the final of the Coupe de France and have their eyes on Europe. Such are the standards set by Europe’s premier women’s team that progressing from the group stage in second place was a failure, to an extent.

There were two changes to the Lyon side that secured a 2-0 win against Fleury in the Coupe de France at the weekend, with the forward Eugénie Le Sommer and full-back Perle Morroni taking the places of Vicki Becho and Selma Bacha respectively.

Delphine Cascarino (centre) in action against Chelsea
Delphine Cascarino (centre) in action against Chelsea. Photograph: Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Meanwhile, although Hayes has had to grapple with injuries to Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby, the Chelsea manager was able to rest a number of key players for her team’s FA Cup win against Reading on Sunday, with only Millie Bright, Jess Carter, Sophie Ingle and Reiten retaining their place in the starting XI.

If a weakened Lyon starting XI was a more attractive prospect than a full-strength one, it did not look it. Much of the first 25 minutes was spent in the visitors’ half but clearcut chances were rare. Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Ann-Katrin Berger, was forced to race out early on after Dzsenifer Marozsán’s through ball to Le Sommer caught Kadeisha Buchanan napping, but Le Sommer put her effort wide as Berger closed off her options.

Wolfsburg edged victory over Paris St-Germain who had a player sent off in the first leg of their Women's Champions League quarter-final.

Elisa de Almeida was sent for receiving a second yellow card when she was penalised for handball in the box. After a VAR review, Wolfsburg were given a penalty which Dominique Janssen scored in the second half.

It was far from the tantalisingly high-energy encounter between Arsenal and Bayern Munich on Tuesday night. Instead there was a scrappiness to play at the Groupama Stadium. So, while Chelsea’s goal was against the run of play, it was also not surprising.

Cuthbert was instrumental in the buildup, battling the ball away from the feet of Ellie Carpenter and nutmegging Damaris Egurrola before feeding Reiten who curled her effort beyond Christiane Endler.

It was almost 2-0 five minutes later, with the majestic Lauren James sweeping free on the right, playing a one-two with Sam Kerr before coming to a stop in front of Morroni, waiting for an opening, then beating the full-back and smacking a low effort off the base of the far post.

There was a big blow for Chelsea at the close of the half, with the centre-back Bright twisting her foot awkwardly, forcing her off; the club captain, Magda Eriksson, arrived in her place. “She’ll have a scan tomorrow. I haven’t seen her since but I know she couldn’t carry on,” said Hayes.

The second half mirrored the end of the first, with a feisty and evenly matched midfield duel being played out in front of solid defensive performances from both teams. There was almost calamity for Chelsea just past the hour, though, as Eriksson passed straight to the Lyon substitute Becho and the forward squared to Delphine Cascarino, but her strike was tipped on to the post by Berger.

The home team continued to push for the goal that would see them travel to Stamford Bridge next week on level terms but they just could not find a way through. Instead Chelsea return home with the knowledge they can win ugly against the very best in Europe and with the drive for a first Champions League trophy still very much on track.