Chelsea squad ‘the best we’ve had’, says Hayes

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Chelsea players celebrate
Chelsea have won all three of their Women’s Champions League games this season

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes called her squad the best the Blues have “ever had” as her side maintained their perfect start to the Women’s Champions League against Real Madrid.

Second-half goals from Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert helped the hosts to victory at Kingsmeadow.

Chelsea remain favorites to win Group A and now have a five-point lead over second-placed Paris St-Germain.

“This team is on another level,” Hayes said.

“This is the best team we’ve ever had. I think learning from previous years and learning from losing in the final [against Barcelona in 2021] helped”.

After a dismal first half, the Blues took the lead with Sophie Ingle’s header in the 67th minute after Millie Bright took a corner.

Erin Cuthbert’s cross sealed the points with 15 minutes remaining, catching goalkeeper Misa Rodríguez.

The Blues go home to the waiting Kingsmeadow

Chelsea, who returned to the top of the Women’s Super League on Sunday after beating Tottenham at Stamford Bridgeentered the match leading the group, two points ahead of unbeaten Real Madrid.

After a 1-0 win over Paris St-Germain and an 8-0 win against Vllaznia in their other two Champions League games, the bounce-back Kingsmeadow crowd were in anticipation.

They came close to Fran Kirby’s early curling efforts in an uneventful first half.

With 25 minutes to go, there was a nervous energy at Kingsmeadow with Real Madrid growing into the game, but it was soon replaced by relief after Ingle’s opener.

And Chelsea almost added a third through two efforts from Niamh Charles at the death as they cruised to victory.

Hayes praised his team’s maturity, adding: “I think a couple of years ago we would have got impatient, especially in the first half.

“It was a quiet dressing room at half-time. When these two teams are so relatively evenly matched, I start to see the importance of our experience.

“We certainly play better European football, we are getting used to it more and more.”

Caroline Weir playing for Real Madrid against Chelsea
Caroline Weir, the Scotland international and former Manchester City midfielder, couldn’t find the perfect pass for the visitors.

Real Madrid, second best in London

This was the first meeting between Chelsea and Real Madrid, but Las Blancas have a good record against English teams in the Champions League. after knocking out Manchester City for the second straight season in the August qualifiers.

The visitors arrived in west London having lost just once this campaign, against Barcelona in the Primera División where they sit third in the table.

And while they battled in the opening exchanges, last year’s quarter-final saw the game grow as Esther Gonzalez saw a fierce shot blocked shortly after the restart.

But it was to be his only meaningful effort, with Chelsea the better side in Hayes’ first game at Kingsmeadow. since recovering from surgery.


Chelsea Women

Formation 4-3-3

  • 30Berger
  • 21Carlos
  • 26Buchanan
  • 4bright
  • 16Eriksson
  • 22Cuthbert
  • 5english
  • 14KirbyReplaced byFlemingat 56′minutes
  • 19Rytting KanerydReplaced byJamesat 56′minutesBooked at 69 minutes
  • 20Kerr
  • 11ReiteReplaced byCarterat 79′minutes


  • 1Musovic
  • 3Nouwen
  • 7Carter
  • 9England
  • 10James
  • 13Svitkova
  • 15Perisset
  • 17Fleming
  • 27Abdullina
  • 28Cankovic
  • 36Akpan

Real Madrid Women

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Rodríguez Rivero
  • 2oak trees
  • 14Sousa Feitoza
  • 5Andres
  • 7CarmonaReplaced byGarcíaat 81′minutes
  • 24OlofssonReplaced byGálvezat 80′minutes
  • 21ZornozaReplaced byTolettiat 86′minutes
  • 11Weir
  • 20fellerReplaced byswaveat 63′minutes
  • 10GonzalezBooked at 57 minutesReplaced byHansenat 86′minutes
  • 8rice


  • 3Beekeeper
  • 4Gálvez
  • 6Toletti
  • 9García
  • 13Gerard
  • 15Florentino
  • 16Hansen
  • 18Rodríguez
  • 22of the Castle
  • 23swave
  • 27camacho
  • 46source

Maria Ferrieri Caputi

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