BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea skipper Karen Carney’s early strike from the penalty spot ensures that the Blues take a slender lead to Italy in two weeks’ time in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 – their 1-0 win at Kingsmeadow should have been far, far more.
Excellent saves from the away side’s goalkeeper Stephanie Ohrstom prevented a goal-fest for the Blues as the Londoners went in search for some redemption after the weekend’s humiliation of a 5-0 league defeat to Arsenal.
Beth England had the first chance on five minutes but her shot from eight yards out was blocked by Alice Tortelli.
The Blues were rewarded with a penalty two minutes later when Stephanie Breitner handled a Erin Cuthbert cross. Up stepped skipper Karen Carney to smash the ball home.
With the home side on top, Fran Kirby sliced a half volley that went inches over goalkeeper Stephanie Ohrstrom’s crossbar.
Some extremely high quality one touch play between Ramona Bachman and Ali Riley saw the Switzerland international try her luck from long range, the bal sailed into the back of the strand behind the goal.
Some sloppy defensive play by Sophie Ingle allowed striker Ilaria Mauro a run on gol.m Thankfully Hedvig LIndal was alert and smothered the right-footed blaster on 18 minutes.
Cuthbert was handed a yellow card on 22 minutes.
If neon breakaway almost saw Kirby double the lead after Cuthbert cross, the england striker turn and shot in one, quick movement butcher shot was blocked by Helene Jaques.
Riley was next in the book for a needless.
Laura Agar thwarted Cuthbert as she about to pull the trigger as the home side went in search of the cushion of a second goal.
Breitner bundled over Cuthbert five min s after the restart and was handed a yellow card for her nefarious effort.
She was quickly followed by Davina Phitjens who agains scythed down Cuthbert.
Bachmann had a great chance to double the lead, but from just inside the penalty area, her daisy-cutter was kicked away by Ohrstom.
Two reflex save from Ohrstom and the woodwork prevented the home side from scoring as the Italian side rode their luck. Carney and Kirby the unlucky duo who saw their efforts blocked.
Ji was manager Emma Hayes’s first replacement – off came So-Yun Ji with 10 minutes left on the clock.
The visitors goalkeeper was easily women of the match as she once again was called into action, preventing live wire Cuthbert.
The occasional foray by the visitors towards the Blues goal were easily contained, but then match in Italy will be a tense affair.
Chelsea Lindahl, Blundell, Bright, Ingle, Carney, Riley, Kirby, England, Ericsson, Cuthbert, Bachmann
Subs: Telford, Carter, Ji, Engman, Andersson, Copper, Spence
Ohrstrom, Guagni, Jaques, Tortelli, Breitner, Parsi, Muro, Vigilucci, Kongouli, Phitjens, Agard
Subs: Fedele, Adami, Bonetti, Ripamonti, Caccamo, Clelland, Fusini
referee Stephanie Frappart (France)