Goals from terrier-looking forward Erin Cuthbert and a rampant Pernille Harder earned Chelsea their first three points in the Champions League group stage after a tight 2-1 loss to Juventus in Turin.
Harder scored her 27th goal in 30 UWCL games to give last season’s runners-up a valuable victory after Barbara Bonansea tied the hosts in her fourth European campaign.
Chelsea’s close 3-3 draw with Wolfsburg in their opener, a game that dominated the team, left the team’s hopes of progression to the knockout phase much more in the balance than they would have liked. Living up to their group’s nickname of death, Group A currently has Wolfsburg on top, following their 5-0 defeat over Swiss Servette FCCF, Chelsea second, tied with the Germans with four points, Juventus third with three points and Servette down and nonsense. Yes, only two games out of six have been played, but last season’s runners-up have little room for error in the rest of the games, which also puts pressure on the national campaign.
Half an hour passed before the Blues took the lead at the noisy Juventus stadium in Turin, where 17,000 tickets out of the 20,000 available before kick-off had been distributed. Cuthbert made a blistering and tenacious run before cutting in and shooting low in the bottom corner.
Twice Juventus forward Lina Hurtig found herself in a one-on-one race with Jess Carter. Both times the defender did well to interrupt the flow of the Swedish striker. But the threat was a warning sign and the crowd was encouraged by the performance of the homeless.
Eight minutes after Cuthbert’s first game, Juventus punished the waste that had given Wolfsburg three goals in the previous round. Bonansea received a strong cross from the left at the far post and the Italian did well to contain Guro Reiten and dived in front of her marker to drive the ball into the goal. It was too easy: once again, the three behind Chelsea were found wanting.
Juventus currently top Serie A with six wins out of six and while Chelsea had played against the Italian champions only once, in a pre-season friendly in 2018, the team has come a long way since then and the coach at the bench was much more familiar.
Having announced that he would be leaving Arsenal at the end of last season, Joe Montemurro joined Juventus in the summer. In 12 meetings between Emma Hayes and Montemurro while in North London, the Blues won nine times and Arsenal once.
“I am a fan of Arsenal, so it is important to me that Chelsea is always behind,” he had joked before his reunion with Hayes.
In the second half, Montemurro was denied the possibility of getting ahead of his old enemy when striker Cristiana Girelli fell in the area after a push in the back from Chelsea captain Magda Eriksson, but without VAR until the round of 16 was completed. They dispute the Italian’s appeals. side were fired.
Instead, Hayes’ team regained its lead after an hour. Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby joined in and tried to get into the box, but were displaced by black and white jerseys and the stray ball fell gently to the ever-alert Harder, who entered.
Almost instantly, Juventus went looking for an answer, but Hurtig’s effort caused the full-back to move. Chelsea came close to extending their lead, but a drilled shot from Kerr was acrobatically fired at the post by former Arsenal goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin before being cleared.
Eight substitutions in 23 minutes killed the momentum of both teams. In a difficult ending to the match, Chelsea held on to take the three points that have kept them well in the mix.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism