Chelsea manager Emma Hayes says her players produced their best performance of the campaign as they climbed to top spot in Group A of the Women’s Champions League.
Sam Kerr’s scintillating 20-yard drive and a brace from the exceptional Lauren James saw the Blues beat PSG in front of 10,129 fans at Stamford Bridge.
“I really enjoyed the performance – it was my favorite of the season,” said Hayes, calling his team “superb”.
“I’m so delighted with the whole team. The levels of commitment remain high.”
Hayes added: “Most importantly, they learn and understand the way we play.”
Chelsea finished the calendar year unbeaten in 18 home games and will discover their quarter-final opponents in the draw on February 10.
The visitors, who had also already qualified, started well as they chased the two-goal win they needed to finish top and surprise for the second-highest home attendance for an English club ever registered in the Women’s Champions League.
Kadidiatou Diani’s spectacular early efforts nearly put the women’s Division 1 leaders ahead, forcing spinner Zecira Musovic to tip her 40-yard arrow drive onto the crossbar.
PSG’s conviction was shattered two minutes before the break when Kerr opened the scoring with a flare of a shot that was as poised as it was sublime.
Chelsea quickly doubled their lead in the second half, with James starting and finishing the move by bouncing off a misplaced pass inside the penalty area and providing the finishing touch after a smooth exchange between Fran Kirby and Kerr.
Kirby put James’ second on seven minutes later, putting it in front of goal after grabbing a shrewd pass from Guro Reiten.
England leaders light up the Champions League
A year and six days ago, Chelsea crashed out of the Champions League with a 4-0 mayhem at Wolfsburg in the group stage that left manager Emma Hayes sad. “Really, really tough times” for his Covid-stricken team.
They are in poor health heading into the Christmas interlude this year, reflected in their maiden European victory at Stamford Bridge – exorcising the memory of a 3-0 loss to Wolfsburg in their only previous match at the men’s stage of the competition.
They persisted in punishing PSG despite their opponents’ attempt to turn the tide with a string of substitutions, refusing to let go and almost adding a fourth at the end when a classy Kirby volley hit a post.
Chelsea’s collective focus on their warm winter training camp will turn to the potentially crucial game they will face on their return, when the WSL leaders face their closest challengers.
Arsenal signaled their own intention in Europe by winning their Champions League group with a 9-1 rout of Zurich on Wednesdayand their next incentive is to level the points with Chelsea by ending their opponents’ nine-game winning streak in the league with victory at the Emirates Stadium on January 15.
If either team can carry on with the serene confidence they have shown on the continent this week, there could be more than a domestic title in sight for the WSL top two.