Chelsea rise to the occasion for emotional Hayes with Tottenham win

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes thanks her players for ‘taking care of me at a very difficult time’ after they opened the season with a 2-1 win over Tottenham

  • Chelsea opened the WSL season with a win over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge
  • It was an emotional one for Emma Hayes, whose father recently passed away 
  • The Blues manager thanked her players for ‘taking care of me at a difficult time’ 

Emma Hayes had called for a ‘proper Chelsea’ performance to honour her father, Sid, who passed away last week.

As they so often do, her team delivered, with goals from Mia Fishel and Lauren James securing a 2-1 win over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues are defending their Women’s Super League title for a fifth season in a row but they had gone four years without winning their opening game of the campaign.

They were beaten by Liverpool last season and Arsenal the year before, while they had been held to a 1-1 draw at Manchester United in 2020.

A late goal from Martha Thomas ensured a few nerves but Hayes’ side held on.

Emma Hayes’ Chelsea began their hunt for a fifth consecutive WSL title with a 2-1 win over Tottenham

Lauren James was on the scoresheet as the Blues won on the first day of the season for the first time in four years

‘It was really hard for me today,’ said Hayes. ‘I love my players because they understand our environment, they’ve taken care of me at a very difficult time. I know for my family today that will have been really tough. I just wanted to get through it.’

Chelsea were without Australian star Sam Kerr, who is still getting fit after a short pre-season, but players had arrived in buoyant mood after title rivals Arsenal had lost at home to Liverpool earlier in the day.

Tottenham, with new manager Robert Vilahamn on the touchline, frustrated Chelsea for the best part of half an hour and had caused problems on the break. But with their biggest goal threat Bethany England sitting in the stands due to injury, finding the back of the net was always going to prove tricky.

The Blues finally broke through on 28 minutes when Niamh Charles drove past Angharad James and sent a cross in for Fishel, who evaded Luana Buhler to glance a header into the far corner.

Chelsea went close to doubling their lead shortly after half-time when Lauren James sent a long-range shot against the crossbar.

But it did not take long for the second goal to come. Guro Reiten thought she had scored it with a deflected effort. Replays showed the ball had crossed the line but, without goal-line technology, play continued. Chelsea kept the ball alive and Maren Mjelde crossed for Lauren James to side-foot a volley into the top left corner.

From nowhere, Spurs were given a lifeline in the 76th minute when Zecira Musovic spilled Grace Clinton’s long-range effort and Thomas pounced to tap in.

The keeper atoned for that error with a fine save to deny Jessica Naz an equaliser.

Mia FIshel also scored for the hosts as Chelsea made the most of rivals Arsenal dropping points

Martha Thomas’ late goal made for a nervy ending, but Chelsea held on for the points

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