BY PAUL LAGAN
Hannah Blundell’s wonder strike and a late low drive left-footed drive by Erin Cuthbert has given Chelsea a strong 2-0 lead in their hunt for Champions League glory tonight at Kingsmeadow as they beat a rugged Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.
Emma Hayes saw that the Blues first half performance, while stifling the French side was not producing any real attacking threat.
Bringing on Fran Kirby and Ramona Bachmann early in the second half galvanised the west Londoners who fully deserved their victory.
PSG started aggressively and it took just three minutes for the first yellow card to be brandished as Irene Paredes scythed down So-Yun Ji.
As the game settled, neither side were giving much space away. This resulted in constant passing across the back four by both sides, with neither attack getting close to the ball.
The first attack on goal fell to the Londoners’ Erin Cuthbert but her low, right-footed drive, just inside the PSG penalty area, on 32 minutes saw the ball deflected away for a corner – nothing came from the resultant kick.
PSG made one substitution at half-time, Aminata Diallo was replaced by Shang Wang.
But Emma Hayes made an early substitution, Fran Kirby entered the fray on 50 minutes for Ji.
Within seconds the England striker had a brilliant chance to opening the scoring , but her low shot wizzed cross the face of the PSG goal and out to safety.
Beth England was then replaced by Ramona Bachmann as Hayes went for fresh legs to try and open the stern PSG rearguard.
PSG’s first attempt on goal fell to Ashley Lawrence but Ann-Katrin Berger did well to parry away her curling right-footer on 60 minutes.
The Blues started to apply pressure and were rewarded on 73 minutes when right back Hannah Blundell produced a wonderful left-footed curler after excellent interchange with Bachmann and Kirby. She danced past three PSG players before floating the ball into the top right hand corner of Christiane Endler’s goal.
Chelsea should have had number two with seven minutes left on the clock, a powerful header by Magdelena Ericsson was hacked off the PSG goal line.
Number two came two minutes from time as Scotland’s international forced her way through on the left and planted a powerful low, left-footer past Endler to give Chelsea deserved 2-0 lead.
The second leg, in Paris takes place next Wednesday evening.
Teams Chelsea Berger, Blundell, Ingle, Carney, Ji, England, Mjelde, Ericsson, Andersson, Cuthbert, Spence
Subs: Lindahl, Carter, Riley, Kirby, Engman. Cooper, Bachmann
PSG: Endler, Diallo, Geyoro, Kataoto, Diani, Lawrence, Paredes, Berglund, Perisset, Morroni, Formiga
Subs: Kiedrzynek, Glas, Zamanian, Baltimore, Braun, Wang, Cook
referee Ivan’s Martincic (Croatia)