After an easy first round for the two teams Chelsea and Atletico de Madrid faced each other in the most balanced confrontation of the UEFA Women's Champions League round of 16.
In an illuminated match by Ann Katrin Berger, Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid 2-0, with highlights for Sam Kerr who suffered a penalty and gave an assist and for Fran Kirby who added her 14th goal this season.
While Emma Hayes knew she could not underestimate Atleti's team, José Luís Sanchez studied in detail the best way to stop Chelsea's stars and did it successfully during the first full time.
Chelsea will travel to Monza in Italy for the second leg on Wednesday 10 March. The match will kick-off at 12:30pm (GMT)
Story of the match
Emma Hayes couldn't count on Magda Eriksson in defence, so she replaced her with Sophie Ingle. She also used a line of three in the midfield with Melanie Leupolz, Ji So Yun and Pernille Harder and in the attack with Kirby, Bethany England and Kerr.
On the other side, José Luis Sanchez preferred a 4-4-2 to give more defensive support with Rasheedat Ajibade and Toni Duggan assisting Leicy Santos and Silvia Meseguer. In the attack, he left out Amanda Sampedro and Ajara Nchout, opting for Ludmila and Deyna Castellanos.
The match began with Blues dominance. First of all, Millie Bright found Ji in the box with a long ball, but the South Korean kicked wide of the target. Next, a great chance of a counter attack by Ludmila, who ran to the end of the field on the right side and lost the ball. In the 10th minute, a play between Kirby, Kerr and Harder inside Atleti's defence came out with a weak shot by the Danish on the target, an easy save for Hedvig Lindahl.
Twelve minutes in, Sophie Ingle received a red card for bringing down Rasheedat Ajibade in the box. When taking the penalty, Deyna Castellanos took aim at the left side of Ann Katrin Berger, who defended it safely. Because of the red card, England gave way to Niamh Charles at the Blues to regain defensive power: Maren Mjelde moved to centre-back and Charles shifted in right-back.
Chelsea had their best chances at the beginning of the match and Atletico made it difficult for them to get the ball out, betting on dangerous attacks. In the 33rd minute, Ji tried to infiltrate the Atleti defence in play with Kirby, who did not arrive in time to receive the ball in the box.
In the 40th minute, Ludmila set up a counter attack in the right side of the field, but it was offside.
In the second half, Chelsea arrived on the pitch more dangerous and infiltrated the Spanish defence. First, Kirby found Kerr with a long ball, who kicked out of the box. Next, the same play between Castellanos and Ajibade, also unsuccessful. Two minutes later, a long ball by Kerr to Ji from the edge of the area, but the South Korean hit the middle of the goal, making Lindahl's save easy.
Kerr arrived at speed in the area but was knocked down by Aïssatou Tounkara, making the penalty call clear for the referee. Maren Mjelde opened the scoreboard in the 58th minute.
With persistence, a play among Harder, Kerr and Kirby resulted in the second Blues' goal after a strong kick by Kirby. Two minutes later, Toni Duggan tried a shot from the front, but Berger was well positioned.
Finally, in the 80th, Berger gave away a penalty and saved Merel Van Dongen's shot, consecrating the highlight of the match. The goalkeepercollided with Erin Cuthbert, almost left the field but remained until the final whistle.
Chelsea: Berger; Mjelde, Bright, Ingle, Andersson; Harder, Leupolz, Ji; Kirby, England, Kerr. Coach: Emma Hayes.
Atleti: Lindahl; Aleixandri, Tounkara, Van Dongen, Strom; Meseguer, Santos, Duggan, Ajibade; Ludmila, Castellanos. Coach: José Luis Sánchez
Stand Out Player
Ludmila was the main player responsible for the counter attacks of the Colchoneras. She also suffered one of the penalties.
On the other side, Kirby accumulated 14 goals and seven assists in all competitions. Kerr suffered the penalty that gave Chelsea the first goal and assisted Kirby's goal, adding 17 participations in goals in total.
Star of the Match
Berger saved two penalties from Atletico. The first by Castellanos and the second by Van Dongen. In addition, she even got injured after shock with Cuthbert and resisted until the end of the match.