Emma Hayes was impressed with her Chelsea side’s maturity after they beat Real Madrid 2-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday evening. The victory extended their unbeaten European home record to 13 games, putting them comfortably at the top of their group.
It had been a stuttering encounter until the eventual breakthrough on 67 minutes. Neither side really found their rhythm in a first half that saw the Blues register just three shots, with only one on target.
However, Chelsea always looked the more likely to score and a set piece routine saw them pull away. Erin Cuthbert’s corner delivery was headed on by Millie Bright and Sophie Ingle was there to turn it home. Ten minutes later, Cuthbert doubled the score with a spectacular finish, firing over Misa Rodríguez from the tightest of angles.
“I really liked the game”, Hayes said of the encounter. “A couple of years ago, we would have got impatient, especially in the first half. But there is a maturity to the team that’s coming through in each performance. I think lacking from the first half was clearly the final third… But it was a calm dressing room at half-time.
“When these teams are so evenly matched, I’m starting to see the benefit of our experience,” she continued. “Look at my group and look at the leaders in my group. I thought two years ago, we had a decent amount of experience, but this team is another level. I’ve said it before, this is the best team I’ve had.”
Hayes also had a special word for Player of the Match, Cuthbert. “She was brilliant tonight,” she lauded. “She covered every blade of grass. There was a tenacity to her performance even when there wasn’t a tenacity to ours in the first half. In the second half, she drove the team on. And of course, she meant every part of that top corner finish.”