Report by Graham Semple
Chelsea have defeated a spirited Glasgow City 1-0 in a hard-fought Champions League round of 32 first leg clash at Wheatsheaf Park in Staines.
A wonderful individual goal from the highly-rated Fran Kirby gave Chelsea the lead six minutes before half-time. Kerry Montgomery was unable to convert City’s best chance of the match and Lee Alexander was forced to make a number of crucial saves to keep the tie in the balance ahead of the second leg at the Excelsior Stadium on Wednesday.
The newly-crowned English champions enjoyed the early territorial advantage as their high quality attacking quartet caused the Glasgow side problems with their rapid pace and movement. Eni Aluko was inches away from connecting with a low Kirby cross as the home side looked to make the perfect start.
Despite Chelsea enjoying long spells of possession, City were disciplined, well-organised and relatively untroubled. The Scottish champions grew in confidence as the first half progressed and they enjoyed the occasional foray up the park, however they were unable to test the Blues’ goalkeeper.
The first period was drifting until the England internationalist dubbed ‘mini-Messi’ stamped her authority on the match. Kirby evaded the close attention of Cheryl McCulloch before unleashing an unstoppable right-foot shot in off the crossbar.
It was a moment of magic from the former Reading star and her solitary strike separated the sides at the interval.
City began the second period on the front foot and came close to levelling the score and bagging a crucial away goal. A Leanne Ross free-kick was knocked down by the industrious Hayley Lauder but from twelve yards out, Montgomery sent her half-volleyed attempt over the bar and a glorious opportunity slipped away.
For the remainder of the match it was Chelsea pushing and probing in an effort to put further daylight between the teams and they almost extended their advantage on a number of occasions.
A wicked low cross from Kirby presented Ji with a wonderful chance but she fired over before a thunderbolt from Millie Bright forced Alexander into a fine save.
A wonderful solo run and shot from substitute, Ana Borges, brought Alexander into action once again however the City number one was up to the task. The Glasgow side continued to absorb sustained periods of pressure but no further damage was inflicted on the scoreline.
Chelsea: Lindahl, Blundell, Flaherty (c), Fahey, Rafferty, Bright, Spence (Coombs 81’), Aluko (Borges 68’), Kirby, Davison, Ji
Subs Not Used: Hourihan, Meiwald, Chapman, Brett, Ayane
Glasgow City: Alexander, Docherty, Lauder, Love (Rafferty 89’), O’Sullivan, Montgomery, Ross (c), Cuthbert (Shine 73’), McCulloch, Grant, Corsie
Subs Not Used: Cunningham, Jones, Whyte, McMurchie, Fleeting