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Women's Football News
Chelsea 1 (Peter og 54) VfL Wolfsburg 2 (Rafferty og 3, Hansen 78)
VfL Wolfsburg hold the upper hand after the first leg of the UEFA Women's Champions League Round of 16 tie against FA WSL Champions Chelsea with an away victory at Wheatsheaf Park.
The former winners of the competition were pegged back after taking an early lead but substitute Caroline Hansen scored a superb winner to take an advantage back to Germany.
Chelsea got off the worst possible start in the third minute when a Lena Goessling free kick found the head of Babett Peter. In trying to clear the knockdown, under pressure from Nilla Fischer, Claire Rafferty put the ball past Hedvig Lindahl for an own goal.
Wolfsburg were far sharper in the early stages with Lara Dickenmann crossing dangerously in the 4th minute but Ana Borges was on hand to deny Alexandra Popp at the far post.
The home team were unable to find any forward momentum with Wolfsburg moving the ball fluently through the middle of the field for much of the first half and keeping the Chelsea defence occupied. Long passes towards the speedy Chelsea attack were generally comfortably swept up by Fischer and her fellow defenders. Gemma Davison fired over from distance on 25 minutes but it was 43 minutes before Wolfsburg keeper Merle Frohms was forced into a save from a Ji So-Yun 20-yard effort.
Chelsea returned from half time with greater purpose and were able to get their dangerous players on the ball higher up the pitch. Even so, the crucial equaliser came from a set piece and another own goal. Popp fouled Davison wide on the right and So-Yun's lofted free kick was met by a stretching Peter who, under challenge, only succeeded in glancing a header beyond a stranded Frohms.
Stung by this setback, Wolfsburg attacked strongly and Popp was only denied by an excellent saving tackle from Borges as she sought to finish on the far post and Ramona Bachmann shot narrowly wide on 62 minutes. Typically it was Davison who lifted the hosts with a superb run and cross on 67 minutes but So-Yun was unable to force the ball home, denied by an excellent challenge from Anna Blasse.
Chelsea's best chance of the match was created by Eniola Aluko's clever run and pass which freed Fran Kirby 15 yards out. With two defenders closing, the right foot shot was taken early and curled inches wide on 68 minutes.
The importance of that miss was emphasised on 78 minutes. With Chelsea attacking, a weak effort on goal led to a break out. Aluko got back well to cover Bachmann but a quick throw in released Hansen who ran into the area and tricked the last defender before driving a crisp shot across Lindahl for the winner.
Wolfsburg were able to see out the match in relative comfort and indeed looked the more likely to add to their lead. Chelsea will need to find different solutions to the problems posed by the vast experience and technical ability shown by their opponents when battle resumes next Wednesday.
Chelsea: Hedvig Lindahl, Ana Borges, Claire Rafferty, Millie Bright (sub Laura Coombs 80mins), Gilly Flaherty, Niamh Fahey, Gemma Davison, Katie Chapman, Eniola Aluko, Ji So-Yun, Fran Kirby. Subs not used: Marie Hourihan, Laura Rafferty, Jodie Brett, Drew Spence, Rosella Ayane, Millie Farrow.
VfL Wolfsburg: Merle Frohms, Anna Blasse, Noelle Maritz, Elise Bussaglia (sub Ewa Pajor 71mins), Nilla Fischer, Babett Peter, Lara Dickenmann (sub Zsanett Jakabfi 81mins), Vanessa Bernauer, Alexandra Popp (sub Caroline Hansen 65mins), Ramona Bachmann, Lena Goessling. Subs not used: Jana Burmeister, Stephanie Bunte, Joelle Wedemeyer, Tessa Wullaert.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Ana Borges gets away from a grounded Vanessa Bernauer
(middle) Ji So-Yun is challenged by Lena Goessling
(bottom) The referee steps in following play acting by Ramona Bachmann following an altercation with Ji So-Yun
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