Harder scores again as Chelsea clinch first Women’s CL win

Pernille Harder scored for the second successive Women’s Champions League match as her goal helped Chelsea beat Juventus 2-1 in Turin.

The world’s most expensive female player had netted a last-gasp equaliser against Wolfsburg last week to secure a point for Chelsea, and once again popped up with a vital goal on Wednesday.

A blocked Sam Kerr effort deflected into her path, which Harder fired home to secure Chelsea, who were Champions League runners-up last season, their first three points in Group A.

Emma Hayes’ side had taken the lead in the first half after a lovely run from Erin Cuthbert saw her finish emphatically in the 31st minute.

Joe Montemurro’s Juventus levelled up shortly after as Barbara Bonansea (37) turned home a floated cross from Lisa Boattin, but it was Chelsea that took the points back to London.

It sees Chelsea go second in Group A, behind Wolfsburg on goal difference after their 5-0 win against Servette FC. Juventus slip down to third with three points.

How Chelsea clinched victory in Turin

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Erin Cuthbert scored the opener for Chelsea at the Juventus Stadium

Chelsea began well, although did not work goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin too often. The Juventus defence did have her to thank though when Kerr’s cross was inadvertently deflected goalwards, but the goalkeeper was there to collect.

Soon after, Juventus missed a golden chance. It was a superb, floated ball in from the right and Bonansea was there to flick a header goalwards. It had Ann-Katrin Berger scrambling but the effort just lifted onto the top of the net.

Player ratings

Juventus: Peyraud-Magnin (7), Lundorf (6), Gama (7), Salvai (7), Boattin (7), Rosucci (6), Pedersen (6), Cernoia (7), Bonansea (8), Girelli (6), Hurtig (7).

Subs used: Bonfantini (7), Lenzini (6), Caruso (n/a), Staskova (n/a), Zamanian (n/a).

Chelsea: Berger (7), Bright (7), Carter (7), Eriksson (7), Cuthbert (7), Leupolz (7), Ji (7), Reiten (6), Kirby (6), Kerr (7), Harder (8).

Subs used: Fleming (6), Ingle (6), Andersson (n/a).

Player of the match: Pernille Harder.

Just after the 30-minute mark and Chelsea went ahead. It was a truly wonderful goal from Cuthbert, who easily drifted past Boattin and Martina Rosucci. With space to shoot, she then confidently dispatched the ball past a stretching Peyraud-Magnin.

Lina Hurtig went close to an immediate equaliser, but was marked well by Jess Carter as she sped down the left of the area. However, Juventus did soon haul themselves level. It was a wonderful floated cross from Boattin that picked out Bonansea, who slotted home past Berger, roaring the Juventus Stadium into life with her celebration.

Team news

  • Emma Hayes made eight changes from the side that beat Leicester 2-0 at the weekend. Only Millie Bright, Magdalena Eriksson and Fran Kirby kept their places in the starting XI with a more familiar Chelsea XI being named in Turin.

Juventus began the second half with a penalty shout. Cristiana Girelli went down after a nudge from Magdalena Eriksson inside the area, but the referee waved away the claims. Shortly after, Harder sent two wonderful efforts wide. The first came after a darting run into the area, but could only find the back of the net on the wrong side. She was then set up by Guro Reiten but from a much better position, again fired past the post.

Harder did eventually find the net in the 69th minute. Chelsea’s front three combined wonderfully too, with Fran Kirby initially finding Kerr down the right. The Australian’s effort was blocked, but the loose ball bobbled over to the waiting Harder. She then fired home with another great finish to see Chelsea ahead again.

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Barbara Bonansea celebrates after equalising for Juventus

Five minutes later and Chelsea should have added another. Kerr fired goalwards from just outside the area, but a sensational, leaping save from Peyraud-Magnin sent the ball onto the crossbar and wide.

Juventus turned up the heat in the final 15 minutes – Berger making a last-ditch stop at the near post in added time – but were unable to find a way past Chelsea’s defence.

Wednesday’s Women’s Champions League results

  • Juventus 1-2 Chelsea
  • Wolfsburg 5-0 Servette
  • PSG 5-0 Kharkiv
  • Real Madrid 5-0 Breidablik

Player of the match – Pernille Harder

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Pernille Harder says it was an amazing night for her and her Chelsea team-mates as they beat Juventus 2-1 in front of 17,000 fans in Turin

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Pernille Harder has now scored in successive Champions League games for Chelsea

Harder has had a wonderful start to the season, and showed exactly why she is so important to Chelsea. She helped set up Cuthbert’s opener, before scoring the winner herself, carrying on her fine form. Her overall attacking play made her a menace for Juventus and she certainly provided the winning touch.

Chelsea reaction: Hayes and Harder

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Emma Hayes praised the performance of Pernille Harder after she scored the winner as Chelsea secured victory over Juventus in the Women’s Champions League

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said: “I think the game had everything. It was quite scrappy, but once again, we showed the ability to adapt to the demands of the game. The performance from the team was mixed, but I felt we were resilient enough and took our chances when it mattered and that’s why we were on the winning team.

“She [Harder] had an outstanding performance. I’ve said this before, she came to the club and to a difficult country, joining a team that’s already amazing and she has taken us to a higher level. Her standards day in, day out should be what every young person should look up to.

“She takes responsibility, she’s accountable, she’s there when it matters and she’s a key player for this team. I’m so delighted she’s part of our squad.”

Chelsea forward Pernille Harder: “This is what every Champions League night should feel like. I don’t know how many people there were, but it [the stadium] felt full. It’s an unbelievable stadium, a great pitch and fans shouting.

“I wish there had been Chelsea fans, but this time it was Juventus fans. But it was amazing.”

Chapman: Much-needed win for Chelsea

Former Chelsea midfielder Katie Chapman on Sky Sports News:

“They really needed the win. I think Juventus made it really difficult for them. At the end, they were creating chances, they were pushing forward and they really put Chelsea under pressure.

“I think they set up really well defensively tonight and made it really difficult for Chelsea. All the possession Chelsea had, they didn’t create many chances.

“There is no one better in Europe than Harder. She’s the one who crops up with the winning goals, she’s that quality of player.”

What’s next?

Chelsea are back in action on October 31 when they take on Man City in the FA Cup semi-finals. They return to the Champions League on November 9 when they take on Swiss side Servette FC.

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