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Chelsea progress to the Women's Champions League Semi-Final with win over Ajax

Chelsea line up ahead of their Champions League tie with Ajax

Chelsea Women secured their place in the Champions League semi-final with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge to win the tie 4-1 over two legs.


Manager Emma Hayes made six changes from the side which beat West Ham at the weekend as she managed a squad playing their seventh game in the month of March.


Hayes had warned in the build up that Ajax would start quickly and aggressively, given the mammoth deficit they needed to overturn to progress and so it proved, as the visitors pressed energetically and attempted to stamp their authority on the game from the off.


Chelsea's back five had an unfamiliar feel to it with early misplaced passes and poor decision making placing needless pressure on the blues.


But Chelsea's strength comes largely from the wealth of attacking options at their disposal and it was academy product Aggie Beever-Jones, given a rare second successive start who produced the games first chance as she drove into the box and laid the ball to captain Erin Cuthbert who shot narrowly wide.


Ajax arrived in London knowing that they would need to score at least three times if they were to produce one of the biggest shocks in recent memory and they had their chances to get themselves back into the tie.


Striker Romee Leuchter went close after getting away from Lioness Jess Carter and firing narrowly wide before her harrying of Chelsea keeper Zecira Musovic saw her clearance rifle off of the Dutch forward's back before rolling agonisingly wide of the post.


The visitors were left to rue their lack of ruthlessness as Chelsea's attacking prowess began to turn the tide of the match. The impressive Beever-Jones proved to be a constant threat from the right and the youngster should have given her side the lead as she went through on goal only to get the ball trapped under her feet.


Chelsea's dominance did eventually serve up the opener as Guro Reiten picked up a loose ball in the Ajax half and played an incisive pass through to Mayra Ramirez who calmly slotted past the onrushing Regina Van Eijk.


Chelsea were good value for their halftime lead and may have been frustrated not to have extended it before the break as several chances went begging for Ramirez and Reiten.


The 4-0 aggregate score line had seemingly removed any hope from the Dutch side as the second half played out flatly.


They were given the most miniscule of hope just after the hour as striker Chasity Grant's tame effort found its way through the hands of Musovic to draw the visitors level on the night.


The goal capped off a torrid night for Musovic who has recently lost her place to England international Hannah Hampton and struggled to replicate her rivals impressive distribution with several loose passes and nervy moments.


No position is as lonely as that of goalkeeper, where mistakes are amplified and often consequential. Musovic's reaction to her error spoke volumes about her mindset as she recovered superbly to make two high-quality saves to prevent the tie from becoming tighter than it could have been.


Ajax captain Sherida Spitse was stoic in defeat, reflecting on a Champions League journey that has seen her side qualify for the knockout stages for the first time in their history.


Spitse said: "We can be really proud, the group we progressed from was full of top teams and we were unlucky to not come top.


"I think we have shown who Ajax are and this is where we want to be every year."


The competition is the only one to allude Emma Hayes in her time as Chelsea manager and the win leaves her side three games away from glory in her final season at the helm.


Hayes said: "We haven't won anything yet but I am really happy to get through to the next round."


Reflecting on her sides performance, Hayes refused to over-indulge in praise for individuals, preferring to focus on the collective with the game seeing a number of squad players utilised to get her side over the line.


Hayes said: "Everybody has a role to play, it doesn't matter who scores, who assists, we love winning and everybody has their moments over the course of a season."


Reflecting on the errors made by her goalkeeper, Hayes was characteristically sympathetic and protective.


Hayes said: "It is hard for somebody who hasn't been playing to come in and have their touch, their passing 100% straight away.


"You have to be fair, when the person you're replacing has been impeccable, the pressure is heightened and you can see that.


"But to her credit, she produced two brilliant saves and I'd rather focus on that."


Chelsea now look ahead to the opportunity to lift their first of four pieces of silverware available as they take on Arsenal in the Continental Cup Final.

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