BY PAUL LAGAN at the Stade Jean Bouin, Paris
Maren Mjelde scored a late, late goal that propelled Chelsea into the semi-final of the Champions League in the most thrilling and frankly unexpected way losing the match 2-1 but going through 3-2 on aggregate at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris tonight.
Chelsea lost their 2-0 first lead advantage in the opening minutes of the second half and looked dead on their feet for most of the game.
This was a defensive performance that had little to commend it, and so with extra time looking inevitable and ominous for the Londoners, up stepped Norways’ Mejede at the far post. She saw a deep Karen Carney cross land at her left foot and she gently but accurately struck the ball into the far corner of the PSG net, much to the jubilation of the 50 or so travelling supporters at the other end of the stadium.
The home fans made the extra player for PSG. Flares, riotous chanting, dancing and generally making themselves as intimidating as possible appeared to have affected Chelsea and from the first whistle they looked a less than confident outfit.
Ann-Katrina Berger made a hash of a kick out after two minutes but thankfully the home side were unable to capitalise.
Emma Hayes made one change from last week’s 2-0 first leg lead – suspended Erin Cuthbert replaced by Ramona Bachmann.
PSG rapidly gained greater possession, forcing quick successive corners. Thankfully the Chelsea defence held firm.
Irene Paredes got the better of Hannah Blundell on the byline, on the left, on 22 minutes and sent in a fine cross. Marie-Antoinette Katoto could only get a glancing header on the ball and it zipped away from Berger’s goal.
The home side had a shout for a penalty on 26 minutes when Shang Wang went down in the six-yard box after a rugged challenge from Maren Mjelde. But Portuguese referee Sandra Bastos was quick to see no infringement and played on.
PSG should have scored on 35 minutes when Magdalena Ericsson slipped on the right, slowing Kadidiatou Diani a free run at goal. But her shot crashed into Berger’s side netting. Katoto was next up to find space, and again the home side were wasteful within their shooting. This one going well wide of Berger’s goal.
Blundell got a yellow card for time wasting on the stroke of half-time.
Emma Hayes brought on Millie Bright for ineffectual Beth England to try and shore up the defensive line.
But it did no good, Chelsea succumbed within 90 seconds of the restart – a ball from the left was sent into the Chelsea six-yard box and Katoto was on hand to stick out her foot in front of Bright, and direct the ball past Berger.
Anxiety crept into the side it showed on 56 minutes when a horrendous error by Berger cost them their aggregate blend.
A regulation catch from a corner seemed on the cards, but somehow the German stopper let the ball drop onto her knee and the ball ended up in the back of the net for number. It was a needless corner to concede in the first plac.
That levelled the scores on aggregate.
Berger and Ericsson thwarted PSG as they went for the jugular. The Chelsea back four looked shaken and lacking in confidence as, with ever PSG attack, a goal threatened.
Chelsea finally had a shot on goal, their first, on 59 minutes, but Bachmann’s right-footer from just inside the PSG penalty area was weak and Christiane Endler easily grabbed the ball.
That was the forward’s last moment on the pitch as she was substituted by Fran Kirby on 60 minutes.
A Bright effort from 25 yards, on 74 minutes, ended up in row Z of the impressive Stade Jean Bouin.
Kirby, scuffed a left-footer from the edge of the PSG box as the Blues, playing in yellow, attempted to regain numerical advantage. But they had to be mindful at the back.
Ingle was next in the ref’s book for a needless foul with 13 minutes left on the clock.
Chelsea survived another scare when the ball was hacked off the Chelsea goal line by Mjelde after Berger failed to grab another corner and the ball was headed seemingly into the net and a PSG 3-2 lead.
Incredibly deep into added time, Chelsea a sprung an attack and at the far post Mjelde was on hand to stroke the ball into the back of the net to give the Blues a precious away goal and 4-3 advantage and a route into the semi-final of the Champions League where they will face another French league side Lyon.
Chelsea: Berger, Blundell, Ingle, Cairney, Ji, England, Ericsson, Mjelde, Andersson, Bachmann, Spence
Subs: Lindahl, Bright, Carter, Riley, Kirby, Engman, Cooper
PSG: Endler, Cook, Geyoro, Katoto, Diana, Lawrence, Paredes, Berglund, Perisset, Formica, Wang
Subs: Kiedrzynek, Glas, Diallo, Zamanian, Moroni, Baltimore, Bruun
Referee: Sandra Bastos – Portugal