Despite having a period where they could have scored several goals, Chelsea Ladies just couldn't find a way past VfL Wolfsburg and were made to pay. Vanessa Bernauer and Alexandra Popp scored either side of half-time to advance into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women's Champions League.
Both sides remained largely unchanged after the first side, with Wolfsburg making just one alteration. Caroline Graham Hansen started in place of Élise Bussaglia, in what was a more attacking side named by Ralf Kellermann. Chelsea remained unchanged, hoping that their pace could match the Wolves' versatility up front.
Wolfsburg take deserved early lead
That shone through in the early stages as Alexandra Popp missed a great chance to give her side the lead. A great cross from Anna Blässe was met by the towering forward, only to see the ball go narrowly past the post. Graham Hansen also looked menacing early on and a driving run forced the Chelsea back-line to continually drop back. However, instead of shooting, she misplaced her final pass to Ramona Bachmann.
Wolfsburg's impressive start was duly rewarded when Vanessa Bernauer broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion. After Bachmann was halted by Niamh Fahey, a poor clearance from the Chelsea defence was chested down by Bernauer before the Swiss midfielder rocketed a volley into the top corner. Hedvig Lindahl was powerless to prevent the shot from swerving past her from all of 30 yards, which notched up Bernauer's first Champions League goal of the season.
Chelsea struggle to get into the game
The Blues did respond and should have found themselves level after an excellent run and cross from Claire Rafferty. The energetic defender went past several players before cutting the ball back from the by-line, though none of her team-mates were able to get on the end of it. Kellerman's side would not be restrained for long and Babett Peter was the unlikely player to volley just a few inches past the post.
The hosts had more chances in the build-up to the break but were able to take either of them. Graham Hansen's strong run was followed by an equally impressive shot, which was well held by Lindahl. The final opportunity of the opening period came to Popp, only for her effort to drift past the post. Despite the spurned chances Wolfsburg were well-worth their lead.
Aluko and Kirby go close
Many would have been forgiven for thinking that the second-half would have been a comfortable one for Wolfsburg, but the visitors had other ideas. There were strong appeals from the Chelsea players and coaches after Sara Persson opted not to award what looked to blatant penalty on Ji Soyun. A closer inspection showed that there may not have been contact. More agony was to follow for the Blues after a wonderful move saw Fran Kirby set the ball for Eni Aluko, as the latter curled a magnificent shot onto the bar.
Whatever was said by Emma Hayes at the break had most definitely galvanised her side, but poor finishing would continue to cost them. Another swift and incisive move sent Chelsea racing forward again, as Kirby was found open and free in the middle. Unfortunately for the forward, she couldn't finish things off and blazed over the bar.
Popp pops Chelsea's bubble
Despite dominating the first 25 minutes of the half, Haynes' team would be made to pay for their poor finishing. After Lena Goessling's free-kick was blocked, Graham Hansen reacted quickly to volley at goal but saw it come back off the post. However, Popp was on hand to make up for her earlier misses and slam the ball back across goal and in at the far corner, with the aid of a deflection off Claire Rafferty. Chelsea were, understandably, heartbroken after such a strong performance in the second period.
The rest of the game was fairly lacklustre, as the hosts cruised through to the final whistle. Once again, it was a case of missed chances costing Chelsea the game and - ultimately - a much better opportunity to go through to the final eight. Wolfsburg will turn their attentions to getting to the last four once more and avenging defeat to Paris-Saint Germain.