Chelsea boss Emma Hayes believes her side has simply lived up to expectations by securing passage to the Champions League semi-finals after a 1-1 draw with Ajax at Stamford Bridge.

Mayra Ramirez opened the scoring 33 minutes into in the first half of her Champions League debut and, while Chasity Grant netted a second-half consolation for the visitors, the Blues ultimately booked their place in the final four with a comfortable 4-1 aggregate victory.

The Blues, who progressed to the semi-finals for the fifth time in seven seasons, will face the winners of the last-eight clash between holders Barcelona and Norwegian side Brann, who play their second leg on Thursday.

Hayes said: “If you look at our record in the Champions League, even in the last five years, it was only once we didn’t qualify from the group. We’ve made the latter stages every year.

“We expect to be here, I should say that. I don’t make any excuses. We should be at this level, and we should be at the semi-finals. Of course we have a little bit more depth to be able to do things like make six changes tonight than we’ve ever had.

“But we haven’t won anything. We’re in the place we want to be. I don’t know who the opponent will be, but we’re ready.”

The Champions League trophy is the one that still eludes Hayes, who has secured 13 major titles in her 12-year run at the Blues’ helm that will conclude when she departs at the end of this season to take over the US women’s national team ahead of this summer’s Olympics.

The now five-time semi-finalists came closest when they reached a maiden final in 2021, ultimately finishing runners-up in a 4-0 loss to Barcelona, the same side who knocked them out with a 2-1 victory on aggregate in last season’s semi-finals.

This time around Hayes feels Chelsea have “more attacking options, more variety, a little more experience”.

“We’ve been in the latter stages so many times, we know where we have to be to play in those sorts of games,” Hayes added.

Ajax captain Sherida Spitse, whose side were just the second Dutch club to reach the last eight in Women’s Champions League history, insisted she and her team-mates will walk away from the competition with their heads held high.

She said: “I think we can be really proud of each other. Of course you always want to win, you always want to go through, but in the end we have shown who Ajax are and that we have developed in a good way, especially in the games in the Champions League.

“We have to be here every year because I think that is the best place to be.”

Chelsea reached the Champions League semi-finals for the fifth time in their history after a 1-1 draw with Ajax at Stamford Bridge secured a comfortable 4-1 aggregate victory.

The Blues entered the evening already 3-0 ahead from their first-leg victory in Amsterdam and further eased any tension when Mayra Ramirez netted her first Champions League goal to open the scoring after 33 minutes in west London.

It came after a nervy start for the hosts, who narrowly avoided conceding from a first-half mishap before Chasity Grant drew Ajax level with one of few chances after the break.

Chelsea will face the winners of the last-eight clash between holders Barcelona and Norwegian side Brann, who play their quarter-final second leg tomorrow night.

Emma Hayes made seven changes from the side that beat West Ham in the Women’s Super League on Sunday, while 16-year-old Ajax midfielder Lily Yohannes, called up to the US women’s national team on Tuesday, served a suspension after picking up her third yellow card of the competition in the first leg.

Ajax captain Sherida Spitse nodded onto the roof of Zecira Musovic’s net from a short corner at the beginning of the first half.

Erin Cuthbert, wearing the captain’s armband for the hosts, skimmed the edge of the post with an effort, before Ashley Lawrence made perhaps the wrong decision when she might have had a shot of her own, instead unable to find the sliding Aggie Beever-Jones with a cross.

There were also missed opportunities for Ajax. First Romee Leuchter dragged an effort wide before the Blues survived a nervy incident when Musovic crashed her clearance against Tiny Hoekstra and gratefully watched as it rolled inches wide.

Chelsea had multiple chances to do it sooner but finally opened the scoring in the 33rd minute when Guro Reiten slipped Ramirez through and the Colombian obliged with a low finish through the legs of crouching Ajax keeper Regina van Eijk.

Jonna van de Velde looked to level, firing just over, and while Chelsea enjoyed a surge of chances before the break it was Ajax who looked most likely to score when Leuchter sent an effort across the face of goal on the stroke of half-time.

Leuchter threatened again, forcing Musovic into a low save after the restart, one of the only chances for either side until Hoekstra played through Grant, who drew the sides level when she fooled Musovic with a low finish in the 65th minute.

It took a brilliant block from Musovic to claw away another Leuchter effort and Ajax kept the Chelsea keeper busy to the end.

Musovic denied substitute Danique Tolhoek’s attempt as the Blues – who had their own late chances – secured safe passage to the final four. 

Emma Hayes does not believe her trophy-laden Chelsea reign should be defined by whether she can end the club’s wait for a maiden Women’s Champions League crown.

Blues boss Hayes is set to end a successful 12-year tenure in the summer to become head coach of the United States women’s team.

The 47-year-old has won six Women’s Super League titles and lifted the FA Cup five times during her time in charge but continental glory has proved elusive.

Chelsea are on course to reach the semi-finals in Europe in Hayes’ swansong season, having built a 3-0 aggregate lead going into Wednesday evening’s quarter-final second leg at home to Ajax.

“Of course, if I was able to win the Champions League in my time here I’m sure it would be another unbelievable achievement,” she said.

“But for my era to be defined by one competition is probably not what matters most to me.

“What matters most – beyond the winning over the years – is that I will leave the shirt in a better place.

“That’s probably the thing I’m most invested in – to make sure that when I leave, the team is in a fabulous place and certainly in a better place than when I took over and where I can come back as a fan and enjoy them hopefully in many more Champions League (campaigns).”

Chelsea came close to Champions League glory in 2021 before suffering an emphatic 4-0 defeat to Barcelona in the final.

The Blues are poised for a potential semi-final rematch with reigning champions Barca this term.

Yet, despite last week building a commanding first-leg lead in Amsterdam, Hayes insists it would be a “mistake” to overlook an Ajax team with little to lose.

“The fear of losing or the fear of not being in that semi-final is, for us, as big a drive as it is the desire to win it, in fact it’s more,” said Hayes.

“There is no-one in our dressing room that will take tomorrow’s game lightly or think for one minute just because we’re winning 3-0 that the game is over. That is a mistake.

“It all starts in your head, in your mind.

“And, when a team has nothing to lose, they play with freedom and in a different way to express themselves and they are often the most dangerous opponents so, for sure, we don’t take tomorrow lightly.”

Chelsea’s midweek appointment at Stamford Bridge comes four days before the Continental Tyres League Cup final against Arsenal at Molineux.

Preparations for the Gunners – the only English club to have won the Champions League following success in 2007 – remain on the back-burner.

“We only play one game at a time; I’m not thinking about Sunday,” said Hayes.

“I’m thinking about tomorrow. We know Ajax are going to come out and be aggressive. We’re expecting that.

“Only one team advances, so we’re prepared for the aggression from the opponent.

“They’re a good side and it’s important for us to keep all of our focus and attention on tomorrow.”

Emma Hayes hailed Sjoeke Nusken after the German scored her second brace in as many games during Chelsea’s 3-0 first-leg victory over Ajax in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The versatile forward came into the game on a high from her double in the Blues’ 3-1 win over title rivals Arsenal in the Women’s Super League on Friday.

Her double came after England winger Lauren James scored the opener at Johan Cruijff ArenA.

“Nusken has a natural ability to be in the right spaces inside the box,” Hayes said.

“She’s a box player, no question. She wants to be there, and the third goal epitomised her desire, her positioning and her quality.

“I might give her a game in goal as well next week, just to try it out.”

Chelsea’s advantage keeps their quadruple hopes alive and gives them a cushion going into the second leg later this month at Stamford Bridge.

Hayes expects Ajax to deliver an improved performance in that tie.

She said: “When you’re used to European competition you know they’re two very different games. When you go away and you win games like this, the brain gets a little bit relaxed. You go home and you see an opposite performance.

“I felt that when we played Lyon last year – we went away and it was a disciplined performance. We went home and Lyon were the dominant side even though we went through. We need to heed that warning and share that experience with the players.”

Guro Reiten had a goal chalked off for offside and Hayes credited VAR for the decisions during the match.

She said: “The players carried out the game plan in and out of possession the way we wanted and it was good to experience VAR for the right reasons.

“I’ve always wanted VAR for big decisions, and it showed tonight that it was important and both big VAR decisions were correct.”

Sjoeke Nusken scored her second brace in as many games as Chelsea beat Ajax 3-0 in the first leg of their Women’s Champions League quarter-final.

Emma Hayes’ side continued their search for European glory as they flexed their attacking pedigree at Johan Cruijff ArenA.

Lauren James was among the scorers again before summer signing Nusken was on hand twice to extend their advantage ahead of the return leg at Stamford Bridge later this month.

Chelsea took the lead after 19 minutes. James and Nusken, who had starred in the Blues’ 3-1 win over Arsenal in the Women’s Super League last week, combined again.

Nusken tried to thread a ball through and after it rebounded off two Ajax players, James rounded the keeper to score.

The Blues thought they had doubled the lead through Guro Reiten but were denied after a lengthy VAR check.

James showed off her technical ability to pick out Reiten in the box but her strike took a nick off the offside Nusken as Chelsea were left frustrated.

Reiten had impressed down the left flank all night and made another dangerous run before Chelsea doubled their lead.

The Norwegian winger marauded forward before she delivered an inch-perfect cross to the surging Nusken. The versatile German did not think twice before she finished first time, highlighting Chelsea’s ruthlessness in front of goal and strengthening their foothold in the tie.

The Blues had dominated up to this point. They came out in the second half playing at the same tempo and enjoyed long spells of possession before Nusken missed the chance to put them 3-0 up.

A pinged pass was made into the box and after Reiten did well to beat her marker in the air and knock it down, Nusken leant back too far before powering her strike well over the bar.

Catarina Macario’s impact was noticed straight away off the bench as she assisted the third.

The pacey wide player whipped a cross from the right into the path of Nusken who was alert in the box, and she rose highest and powered a header home.

Chelsea forward Erin Cuthbert still finds herself dreaming of a first Champions League trophy despite boss Emma Hayes’ firm reality-rooted approach to the competition.

The Blues, who face Ajax at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena on Tuesday night in the first of their two-leg last-eight encounter, remain on course to become just the second English side to complete a quadruple – with Arsenal Women having done so in 2007 – when Hayes was a member of the Gunners’ coaching staff.

The European club title is the one accolade that has so far eluded Hayes, who after winning 15 trophies in charge of Chelsea will depart at the end of the season to take up her new role as head coach of the United States women’s national team.

Cuthbert said: “It would mean everything to get to the final and to go on and win it. But you know, I’ve been at this club so long, it’s all about a process.

“I think we’re in the quarter-finals now and it’s two ties that lie ahead. Two tough games against a really tough team who have more than proved themselves at this level.

“So I think we’re under no illusions, it’s going to be a tough game tomorrow, but of course it’s hard not to dream a little bit.

“You are a football player, but at the same time I’ve been so well-drilled under Emma that it is very process-oriented.”

Chelsea have reached a Champions League semi-final four times in their history, coming closest to the title in 2021, when Cuthbert came on as a second-half substitute in the Blues’ 4-0 loss to Barcelona in the final.

They currently lead the Women’s Super League, level on 40 points but with a goal difference advantage over Manchester City and will play Arsenal in the Conti Cup final later this month before taking on Manchester United in April for a chance to defend their FA Cup title at Wembley the following month.

Ajax are just the second Dutch side to have reached a last eight after Saestum in 2006/07 and by Monday, had sold 34,200 tickets for Chelsea’s visit, putting the contest on course to be the best-attended women’s game Dutch history.

Hayes’ side know a thing or two about big crowds, having seen a Chelsea Women record 32,970 visitors at Stamford Bridge on Friday for their 3-1 WSL victory over Arsenal.

Cuthbert added: “It’s their first time at this point in the competition. We can certainly use our experience as an advantage, (but) I certainly know that if I was in the competition for the first time, I’d be playing without fear.

“We need to be wary of that as well. They’ve got nothing to lose and we’ve got everything to lose, so we’ll be giving it everything.”

Despite the lack of a Champions League trophy in her cabinet, Hayes brushed off the suggestion this competition might matter more, saying: “Every game means a lot to me. You can see that just in the league and having a record crowd at Stamford Bridge.

“I really don’t portion any more emotional response to one competition over the other.

“I would like to be part of a team that wins as much as possible, so I’m excited to be in this arena, I saw the quality out there, I’m looking forward to the atmosphere.”

Chelsea will play Ajax in the Women’s Champions League quarter-finals, with defending champions Barcelona potential opponents in the semis.

Emma Hayes’ side will play the first leg of the last-eight tie in the Netherlands on March 19 or 20 before hosting the second the following week.

The winner will then over two legs in April face the victors of the quarter-final between Barca – 3-2 winners against Wolfsburg in the 2022-23 final for their second title – and Norwegian outfit Brann.

Chelsea, whose best run in the competition came when they were runners-up in 2021, losing 4-0 to Barca in the final, are aiming for glory in what is the final season of Hayes’ lengthy tenure before she steps down as boss to take charge of the United States national team.

The Blues were unbeaten as they topped Group D, which also featured Hacken, Paris FC and Real Madrid, while Ajax were second in Group C.

The other quarter-finals see record eight-time champions Lyon face Benfica and Paris St Germain take on Hacken.

The final is set to take place at Athletic Bilbao’s San Mames on May 25.

A much-changed Chelsea side eased to victory at Paris FC to end their Women’s Champions League group stage undefeated.

First-half headers from Fran Kirby and Mia Fishel before late efforts from Guro Reiten and Maren Mjelde secured a comfortable 4-0 victory in the French capital for the Blues.

Emma Hayes’ side had already guaranteed themselves a quarter-final spot and she took the opportunity to shuffle her pack.

After an even opening, it was England international Kirby who broke the deadlock with the visitors’ first clear opportunity.

Jelena Cankovic crossed to the back post where Kirby arrived unmarked to head home for her first Champions League goal of the campaign.

The hosts, making their group-stage debut – having knocked Arsenal out earlier in the tournament – responded well as Chelsea goalkeeper Zecira Musovic was forced into a smart save, courtesy of an acute Mathilde Bourdieu.

Paris, though, had not learnt their lesson from Kirby’s opener and were caught out in startlingly-similar fashion later in the half as Cankovic this time crossed for Fishel to head home.

With the hosts needing victory to keep alive their hopes of reaching the last eight, Julie Dufour missed a sitter after the restart, leaning back and firing over the crossbar from close range.

A number of defensive mix-ups allowed Chelsea to wrap up the win as Reiten was the beneficiary, tapping home after miscommunication on the edge of the Paris box.

There was more questionable defending as Mjelde flicked home a corner with goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie poorly positioned.

Chelsea were good value for their win and will be seeded for the quarter-final draw on February 6 – avoiding some of Europe’s big-hitters.

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes does not expect her players to be intimidated by a partisan home crowd in Paris in their final Women’s Champions League group match.

Hayes’ side, who secured their place in the knockout stages by beating Real Madrid 2-1 last week to finish top of Group D, face a Paris FC side who can also progress with victory.

Paris must win at the Sebastien Charlety Stadium on Tuesday night and hope Swedish side Hacken fail to beat bottom club Real Madrid.

Hayes told a press conference: “It’s an important game for both of us. We know from the home game the qualities of Paris. We know it’s a game they want to win, but so do we.

“We respect them. It’s their home, we know it will be a big crowd and we’re looking forward to it.

“Playing in front of a crowd is normal for us. We’re used to big numbers, we like to play with a crowd.

“We’ve played in Paris before, albeit at PSG, so we know what the atmosphere is like and the players very much like playing in front of numbers.”

Chelsea, currently top of the Women’s Super League after just one defeat in their first 12 matches, are unbeaten in Group D after three wins and two draws.

They will be bidding to extend their three-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the WSL on Sunday when they face Everton at home, but Hayes is not looking beyond the next challenge in the French capital.

“We respect the competition and the group,” added Hayes, whose side beat Paris 4-1 at home in November. “We know what their threats are. We know particularly the pace they have in the wide areas.

“I also think they’ve got good experience centrally. I think it will be a different game from the game at Stamford Bridge.”

Goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger has remained at home due to injury and Germany midfielder Melanie Leupolz will be rested, but Hayes confirmed she will otherwise be selecting from an unchanged squad.

Emma Hayes admitted Chelsea played a boring game against Real Madrid as a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge ensured progression to the Champions League quarter-finals with a game to spare.

In the first half, Chelsea struggled to find a way through against Real, already eliminated after collecting a single point from their four games.

Chances fell to Guro Reiten and Erin Cuthbert, both denied by goalkeeper Mylene Chavas, while Mia Fishel put an effort wide of the near post from close range.

It took a clumsy challenge from Real full-back Kenti Robles, bringing down the lively Niamh Charles as she darted into the box, to earn Chelsea the penalty from which Reiten finally broke the deadlock just past the hour.

Substitute Athenea tapped in to level as Real made Chelsea sweat on qualification, leaving them facing two dropped points and an awkward trip to play Paris FC next week needing a result to seal a last-eight berth.

But Cuthbert, wearing the armband with Millie Bright unlikely to be back this side of the international break, took charge and within a minute had forced the winning goal, her cross bouncing in off Chavas as the goalkeeper’s concentration deserted her.

“We expect to go through, that’s a bare minimum,” said Hayes. “We should expect to go through as group winners. That’s already a sign of progress, that we expect those things.

“I didn’t think it was a scintillating performance, I thought it was a boring game. Not every game is swashbuckling and dynamic. I thought it was flat.

“I think it was understandable. We had an amazing performance at the weekend against Manchester United. Our league is really tough and I think it showed in some of the flat play for us. But we controlled the game without maybe doing enough in the final third.

“I brought Lauren (James) on at half-time, I thought that helped. Got the penalty, concede a sloppy goal from back to front, a poor goal.

“Then a really good response to go 2-1 up, then managed the game somewhat to the end in what was an efficient performance, but it was boring.”

Hayes said she looked forward to rotating her side in what will now be a dead rubber in Paris next week.

“Managing a squad of players is tricky when you’re making multiple changes,” she said. “I didn’t want to change much from the weekend, I think you need to build rhythm.

“For us the priority has got to be experimenting, giving opportunities in one of these two games coming up; Brighton (in the Women’s Super League) and Paris.

“It’s making sure we get Millie Bright back, we get Nat Bjorn registered. Maybe there’s a new player coming at some point (reports say a club record deal has been agreed for Colombia international Mayra Ramirez).

“But we’ve got to get ourselves ready. If we want to progress, we’ve got to get better. I think it was comfortable and measured from us.”

Real boss Alberto Toril reflected on a game that got away from his side despite a spirited performance.

“We played with our strengths, we contained them,” he said. “We restricted them. They’re a great team and we’re happy with the performance, even though we’ve lost. Sometimes you learn from the defeats.”

Chelsea advanced to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a game to spare after an own-goal from Real Madrid goalkeeper Mylene Chavas handed them a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

Emma Hayes’ side looked to be facing the awkward prospect of requiring a result next week away at Paris FC when Real substitute Athenea del Castillo tapped in on the rebound, reacting quickest after goalkeeper Hannah Hampson had beaten out Hayley Raso’s effort with 20 minutes to play.

A penalty earlier in the second half from Guro Reiten had seemingly put Chelsea en route to the win they required.

But after the visitors had hit back it fell to Erin Cuthbert, wearing the armband with Millie Bright still absent, to lead by example, sending over a cross that bounced in off the unfortunate Real goalkeeper.

Chelsea’s first chance fell to the left foot of Cuthbert, drilled low against the legs of Chavas after Fran Kirby had found her with a deft through ball.

Jess Carter drilled a searching pass to the left flank that was helped on by Niamh Charles, rampaging forward from full-back, into the path of Reiten. She hit an audacious, dipping effort that was just clawed out from underneath the crossbar.

Real threatened through Colombia international Linda Caicedo, tricking her way in behind Kadeisha Buchanan and looking to poke it beyond Hampton from a devilish angle. The goalkeeper, making her Champions League debut, instinctively threw up a strong right hand and beat the ball away.

Reiten set up Cuthbert, who swung and missed her kick with the goal gaping, before the Scotland international and stand-in captain crossed to the near post to present Mia Fishel with seemingly an easy finish, but she could only guide it wide.

Hayes sent on Lauren James, fresh from her weekend hat-trick, at the break as her side searched for the goal that would seal a last-eight berth, whilst the precocious 18-year-old Caicedo, injured during the first half, was withdrawn by Real boss Alberto Toni.

Anything less than a win and qualification for Chelsea would go to the final matchday, a result likely needed away at impressive Champions League debutants Paris, twice conquerors of Real in this season’s competition.

The goal to radically alter that equation arrived just past the hour. Melanie Leupolz’s pass split Real’s defence and ran through to Cuthbert, arch-tormentor of her opposite number Kenti Robles.

The full-back’s challenge was a mess, scything Cuthbert to the ground. From the spot, Reiten put one Chelsea foot in the quarter-finals.

James looked to seal it with a goal all of her own making, cutting in from the right and standing up two defenders before racing beyond them and clipping a shot towards the near post that was brilliantly deflected away by Chavas.

Then all of a sudden, Chelsea switched off. There seemed little on for Real when the ball was pinged up to Raso, high up on the right of the box but with Charles in her path and only Athenea to aim for.

Instead she looked to do it herself, blasting low at goal, her shot beaten out by Hampson but into the path of the substitute who tapped home.

Fortune smiled on Hayes’ team almost at once, their lead restored within a minute when Chavas lost concentration at the critical moment and fumbled Cuthbert’s cross over her own line.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes warned that Real Madrid will “fear nothing” when the two sides meet in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Blues can secure qualification for the quarter-finals of the competition with a win against Real at Stamford Bridge, having won two and drawn two games already in Group D.

It has been a disappointing campaign for Real, who linger at the bottom of the table and they are unable to qualify for the last eight, but Hayes warned Las Blancas will be playing for their pride on Wednesday.

She told a pre-match press conference: “There’s nothing more dangerous than playing a team who has nothing to play for.

“They will fear nothing, they have their pride on the line and yes they’re playing for three points, but they can’t qualify. I think it’s a dangerous place for us if our mentality is to rule them out of the game and it’s something we won’t be doing.

“(It’s) critical (to win the group), we expect that for ourselves and we’re at home – I think everybody would expect us to be favourites going into the game.

“However it’s Real Madrid, they have a quality squad, a lot of internationals, they did score against us and draw with us in the reverse fixture so we know what we have to do.

“I always say to our players, let’s focus on that and put all our energy into making sure the performance is as good as it can be.”

Madrid’s sole point in the group so far came in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea in their opening game.

It played out in controversial circumstances, with Madrid awarded a penalty for a challenge outside the box before the Blues had a goal chalked off for an apparent offside, and Hayes is hoping for “strong officiating” this time round.

She said: “There was a goal scored legitimately that was an offside and a penalty that wasn’t inside the box.

“Let’s hope for strong officiating, that’s what the girls deserve tomorrow to make sure we’re not on the receiving end of poor official decisions.”

Hayes confirmed there are no new injuries for Chelsea and that midfielder Erin Cuthbert has been given the captain’s armband for the match.

Speaking about the decision, Cuthbert said: “I’ve had (the armband) a couple of times now, but it’s always an honour.

“I think nothing about me changes whether I’ve got the armband on or not, I’m still the same person and will conduct myself the same way.”

Erin Cuthbert’s second-half brace helped Chelsea take control of Group D in the Champions League with a 3-1 win at Hacken.

The two teams had played out a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge last week, which left the Swedish outfit top after three matches, but Emma Hayes’ side were able to finish 2023 with a crucial victory.

Sam Kerr broke the deadlock with her ninth goal of the campaign and, while Clarissa Larisey scored for Hacken to ensure it was 1-1 at half-time, Cuthbert netted twice in the space of 12 minutes after the break.

It ensured the Women’s Super League champions moved into top spot of the group after four matches and hold a one-point advantage over Hacken while Real Madrid, who they will host on January 24, are no longer able to qualify for the knockout stage following a 1-0 loss to third-placed Paris.

Hayes had warned her players there were no excuses despite this being their fourth match in 10 days but they nearly conceded early on at Bravida Arena.

Only four minutes were on the clock when Anna Anvegard hit the crossbar after Larisey’s cross, but Chelsea regrouped and a Lauren James curled effort signalled their intentions.

While Hacken goalkeeper Jennifer Falk was equal to James’ 20-yard strike, she had no answer to the prolific Kerr minutes later.

Johanna Rytting Kaneryd was the architect of the opener after she outmuscled Elma Junttila-Nelhage on the right before she cut back for Kerr, who fired into the roof of the net from close range in the 14th-minute.

It was a much-needed opener for the WSL champions, but they were caught out with 26 minutes on the clock by a slick counter-attack.

Jusu Bah showed great speed out wide and crossed in from the left where Larisey powered home a header.

Chelsea could have retaken the lead before half-time, but Falk pushed wide a firm strike by Sophie Ingle.

It was a different story after the break with Anvegard firing against the woodwork again for the hosts after linking up with Larisey, which proved a crucial moment in the group fixture.

Minutes later and Hayes’ team were back in front when Rytting Kaneryd’s cross was cleared to Ingle, who showed her composure to pick out Cuthbert and the Scotland international rifled into the bottom corner to make it 2-1 after 52 minutes.

It was Cuthbert’s first goal in this season’s Champions League but she doubled her tally again with 64 minutes played.

Kerr’s smart pass sent Cuthbert away and after she fooled Filippa Curmark with a fake shot, the midfielder’s low effort was too powerful for Falk.

Hacken pushed for a response and substitute Molly Johansson found the net in stoppage-time, but it was ruled out for offside and Chelsea earned a crucial three points.

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said Lauren James’ mental health has been affected by the latest racist abuse she has received on social media.

James was booked in Chelsea’s 4-1 Women’s Super League defeat at Arsenal on Sunday after appearing to stamp on Lia Walti and was withdrawn by Hayes soon after.

Chelsea have condemned the online abuse, while Hayes compared the treatment of James to that received by David Beckham after his red card during the 1998 World Cup.

James was sent off in the World Cup last summer for stamping in England’s last-16 penalty shoot-out win against Nigeria and was handed a two-game ban.

Hayes, whose side face Hacken in a Champions League group game at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, said: “She’s not in a great place if I’m honest.

“I think when it starts from broadcasting and the way they speak about things, maybe they need to reflect on labelling players.

“She’s a young player. She made an error in the summer. Of course she has to keep learning those things.

“Of course every opponent tries everything possible to get Lauren red-carded. That’s been clear in every game we’ve played and she has to learn to handle that.

“When she gets antagonised in a certain way, managing emotions comes with maturity and that isn’t there yet with her.

“It reminds me very much of David Beckham in many ways when he got red-carded in the World Cup.

“I think the treatment of Lauren is sometimes very similar and I think we have to realise for a young person, in a day and age when social media is unbelievably vitriolic, some of the nasty language and labelling and name-calling goes over the edge.

“And if you add racism to that for her, you can understand why her mental health is not in a very good place this week.”

Hayes said other Women’s Super League players who had “had their own challenging moments” have not received the same criticism as James.

“I think it’s disgusting the amount of abuse she’s received from the public, from the media, you’re talking about a young player here, who no question is always working to learn in the background,” Hayes added.

“Some of the language I’ve seen used to vilify her certainly I think is unacceptable.

“I don’t see the same level of abuse attributed to other players in the league who might have had their own challenging moments.

“It’s fair to say that if I’m in her position I’d be thinking there is racial profiling going on.”

Chelsea, bidding to bounce back from Sunday’s first defeat of the season in all competitions, are still without injured pair Millie Bright and Jelena Cankovic, but Melanie Leupolz will return to the bench.

Swedish side Hacken are top of Group D after victories over Paris and Real Madrid in their first two matches.

Emma Hayes praised “80 per cent fit” Sam Kerr after her hat-trick helped Chelsea to a 4-1 Champions League win against Paris FC at Stamford Bridge.

Kerr has been easing back to fitness after missing most of the World Cup with injury and has made a modest start to the Women’s Super League season with only two goals so far.

But against Paris she ensured her side’s European campaign began in earnest following last week’s controversial draw with Real Madrid, though the result had looked in doubt when the visitors levelled through Thea Greboval’s header before half-time.

That cancelled out Kerr’s opener which she had prodded in on the half-hour mark after getting between goalkeeper and defender to turn home Lauren James’s superb right-footed cross.

She added quick-fire goals early in the second period to put down Paris’ resistance, the first a far-post finish from Johanna Rytting Kaneryd’s low ball in before an effort that looped over the head of goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.

Sophie Ingle evaded her marker to roll the ball into the corner in stoppage time to add gloss to the scoreline.

And afterwards Hayes revealed she had predicted pre-match that Kerr would finally rediscover her scoring touch against the French side.

“I fancied her to score a hat-trick tonight,” said Hayes. “I said it in the dressing room before the game. She doesn’t get credit for all the other little bits she does.

“By her standards she’s not on top, top (fitness) yet, but I don’t know anyone who puts the ball away like she does. She’s so alert and decisive with her movement. Brilliant centre-forward play.

“If that’s her at 80 per cent, I’ll take that. That’s not bad. I can’t wait for the hundred per cent to come.”

Hayes opted to start with Fran Kirby on the bench with the forward also in the early stages of a return from injury having missed most of last season.

She emerged at the start of the second half to play a crucial role in restoring Chelsea’s lead, playing in Rytting Kaneryd down the right who crossed for Kerr to slide in her second.

“I rate Paris,” said Hayes. “I felt there’s a lot of work you have to do over 90 minutes that might have been too much for Fran. It’s so important we keep her healthy for England and Chelsea.

“Fran wants to play in every moment but I thought that was the perfect cameo for her. The team needs it.

“We were sloppy in the first half. I think the games accumulated caught up on us. People don’t realise how hard it is to keep going.”

Paris coach Sandrine Soubeyrand reflected on a brave performance from her team against a side that many fancy for the Champions League crown.

“I think maybe we lacked a bit of efficiency and clinical nature in front of goal,” she said. “I wanted the players to come and give an account of themselves, not so much thinking about the score.

“We wanted to play, not sit back, and I think we did that. We had opportunities. I think we could have done better on one of the goals (conceded), but we go away with no regrets.”

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