Chelsea 1-1 Ajax (4-1 on aggregate): Sides exchange blows as first leg triumph enough for Chelsea
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27: Mayra Ramirez of Chelsea celebrates with Guro Reiten of Chelsea after scoring her team's first goal during the UEFA Women's Champions League 2023/24 Quarter Final Leg Two match between Chelsea FC Women and AFC Ajax at Stamford Bridge on March 27, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images).

Chelsea's first leg triumph in Amsterdam last week did the job for The Blues, with a spirited Ajax side good value for a draw in West London. 

Mayra Ramirez' first Champions League Goal for The Blues showcased her, and her sides' ruthlessness, but Chasity Grant levelled on the night with 25 minutes to go after her effort squirmed through Zecira Musovic. 

The Swede then pulled out two blinding stops to deny Ajax heading back with a win on the night, but their power shown in the first leg was enough for Emma Hayes' side. 

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes rung the changes, with seven in total from the 2-0 victory at West Ham on Sunday. 

Mayra Ramirez, Fran Kirby, Eve Perriset, Sophie Ingle, Ashley Lawerence, Guro Reiten and Zecira Musovic all came into the team, with Hannah Hampton, Niamh Charles, Lauren James, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, Jelena Cankovic, Melanie Leupolz and Sjoeke Nüsken all making way. 

The Dutch side made three changes from their thrilling 3-2 win over Zwolle at the weekend, Millica Keijzer was replaced by Isa Kardinaal in the starting eleven, with Joanna van de Velde and Tiny Hoekstra also coming into the side for the second leg. 

(Photo via Alex Pantling - UEFA via Getty Images)
(Photo via Alex Pantling - UEFA via Getty Images)
  • Story of the match:

The hosts got the game underway wuth a brisk chill in the spring West London air, but it was the visitors who managed the first chance of the game, winning a corner early on, with Rosa van Gool whipping the ball onto the head of Captain, Sherida Spitse. but her effort looped onto the roof of the net and over the bar. 

Zecira Musovic, making her first start in four games since Chelsea's FA Cup win over Everton nearly caused a calamity early on, with her loose ball out from the back landing at the feet of Chasity Grant, but she couldn't find a red and white shirt and Jess Carter was on hand to clear for the hosts. 

The hosts had their first effort just eight minutes in, Aggie Beever Jones broke down the right hand side and somehow smuggled a ball into the box, with Captain, Erin Cuthbert meeting it but her right footed effort went just wide of the post. with the Scott thinking via a deflection but referee Tess Olofsson pointing for a goal kick. 

Chelsea broke again at swift speed as Guro Reiten picked the ball up and slid a little inside pass into the rampaging Ashley Lawerence, who's left footed cross flew right across the box, without connection from anyone in Chelsea blue.

Ajax created a fantastic chance with a quarter of the game gone as the ball found their ecord scorer, Romée Lauchter, who turned Kadeisha Buchanan with ease but lashed her right foot effort past the post when she really would've done better.

It was almost calamity canyon part two for Musovic seconds later, as she smashed a loose ball into Tiny Hoekstra, but the ricochet bounced off the post and wide, in what was another nervy moment for the hosts. 

Some more strong running from Beever-Jones down the right hand side saw her ride two challenges before playing a perfect ball across to Guro Reiten, who's effort was wide of the right hand post. 

Chelsea were of course always a threat and as in the first leg, it took just one moment to show their ruthlessness. 

Erin Cuthbert put in a crunching challenge to win the ball back which fell to Guro Reiten, who fed Mayra Ramirez, who cooly slotted past Regina van Eijk in the Ajax goal to open the scoring on the night. 

(Photo via Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)
(Photo via Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)

Chelsea's marquee January signing almost had another just a few monutes before half time after yet more good running by Beever-Jones and a teasing ball across, but the Colombian's effort spooned wide rather than into the back of the net with the last action of the half.

Ajax made a change at the break, with Milovs Keijzer being brought on in place of Daliyah de Klonia. 

The visitors had themselves the first chance of this half after working the ball nicely to the lively Leuchter, but her effoprt lacked any power and was straight at Zecira Musovic who held well. Fran Kirby then had Chelsea's first half chance of sorts, turning on the edge of the box but her effort rolled through to van Eijk in the Ajax goal.

As the minutes ticked by, Chelsea seemed to be going through the motions as with twenty five minutes left, Ajax got themselves on the board in the tie and level on the night, when Chasity Grant's effort somehow squirmed through the hands of Musovic to get the visitors on the board.

Emma Hayes responded with a triple substitution, with Jelena Cankovic, Catarina Macario and Sjoeke Nusken replacing Kadeisha Buchanan, goalscorer Mayra Ramirez and Guro Reiten. 

It was a goal that Ajax deserved based off their performance in the two legs, showcasing even that they aren't too far off the level requried to go toe to toe with The Blues, but maybe lack the ruthlessness required in Elite European Football. 

Ajaz got themselves in another promising position but once again, the effort lacked any real power to trouble Musovic. The Swede however had to be alert moments later as Leuchter's wait for a goal went on, with her well struck left footed effort superbly tipped round the post. 

Johanna Rytting Kaneryd had been quiet since coming on, but superbly beat defender, Milicia Keijzer before teeing up Macario, but her effort was tame and was an easy hold for the Ajax keeper.

Musovic had clearly banished her demons from earlier on in the game, having to pluck another brilliant, curling effort out of the top corner, this time from substitute, Danique Tolhoek. 

Chelsea had a big chance to win it in added time, with Macario's effort smothered well by van Eijk in the visitors goal. 

The Swedish referee, Tess Olofsson blew the whistle to confirm Chelsea's place in the smi finals of this season's competition, with their potential opponents to be figured out tomorrow evening in the tie between Barcelona and Brann. 

  • Player of the match: Erin Cuthbert:

(Photo via Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
(Photo via Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

It was a proper captain's performance from the Scottish international on Wednesday night, leading by example in a tough encounter. 

A 90% pass accuracy doesn't even tell half of it, always looking to keep the ball ticking and moving forwards, she was often at the heart of any Chelsea charges up the pitch, as exploited in the gioal, crunching into a challenge and quickly setting the ball off to Reiten who fed Ramirez to open the scoring on the night.

It was an all action, battling display from the Scott, who followed up her fantastic display against West Ham with another superb one here. 

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