Wasting no time, Chelsea extended their aggregated advantage over Montpellier just four minutes into their UEFA Women's Champions League quarter final second leg, Fran Kirby's brace either side of a Ramona Bachmann strike enough for a thumping win.
Chelsea off the mark early
After surviving a nervous moment right at the start of the match that saw Montpellier frozen out at a corner, the hosts struck early. A sloppy pass from Sakina Karchaoui was seized upon by Fran Kirby before it could reach Janice Cayman, the visitors already out of shape as the attacker tore forward and put the ball into the bottom right corner at the first time of asking.
Looking as off-colour as in their previous encounter, Montpellier wheezed forward, a hopeful half-volley from Sandi Toletti deflected over the bar for the visitor’s second corner, another near-post delivery that was swiftly countered. Doing what they could to get forward, Stina Blackstenius tested Hedvig Lindahl for the first time, her weak low shot easily held.
A piece of patient build-up utilising Marion Torrent up the right flank saw Valerie Gauvin get a clean shot away, her angled effort skipping just wide of the far post. The visitors came knocking minutes later as the Blues smuggled Anouk Dekker’s header clear, Lindahl in no danger when Toletti chanced her arm from range the following minute.
Some sublime footwork from Kirby saw Ramona Bachmann released, the away box suddenly cluttered with blue shirts as the Swiss attacker pulled the ball across, Karchaoui’s slide tackle enough to kill the chance. Desperate for a goal in the tie, two hours in, Sofia Jakobsson finally gave La Pillade something to go at, her shot from the right side of the box arcing over Lindahl and in off of the far post.
Blues extend advantage
An open contest from the first whistle, the match showed no signs of slowing after the break. Both sides claimed two good chances before Bachmann reopened the three-goal advantage for Chelsea.
Still battling for every ball the match devolved into a midfield battle, the ball sent from one end to the other as both defences were pushed into overdrive, the half chances growing as the score stayed locked. A free kick from just outside the box saw Montpellier’s best chance of the second half just after the hour, the flicked header one of the few won in the air by the visitors, Millie Bright immense for the hosts. Near perfect over both legs, the Chelsea defence stood firm to deny their opposition.
A running header from Karchaoui saw one of the few clearer opportunities for La Pillade, the side from the south of France consistently struggling to get in behind, the defender’s header wide of the near post.
With a mass of red shirts around her in the box, it was inevitable someone would get to close to her, her heels clipped, the referee with no option but to award a penalty as Ji So Yun picked herself up from the turf. Having already gotten the better of Casey Murphy twice, converting from 12-yards was a stroll in the park for Kirby, her thumping shot to the bottom left corner more than enough for the Blues.
Out of the tie, Montpellier were sharp to break and do their best to take something from the match, Gauvin’s shot cleared off of the line by a hard-working Hannah Blundell. The chance one of a late string for the visitors, the home defence the true victors on the night.