Yet for Chelsea manager Emma Hayes there was only one overriding emotion after their Spectacular Women’s Champions League win over Lyon – exhaustion.
Chelsea booked their place in the semi-finals in the most exciting way, emerging victorious in a penalty shoot-out after Maren Mjelde was also flagged from the spot eight minutes into added time in extra time.
« I’m just relieved it’s over and we’re out of it, » Hayes said. “It was a drama, full of dramas. I’m exhausted. Relieves and exhausts. »
Those watching at Stamford Bridge were treated to a spectacular showdown between two of Europe’s heavyweights and Chelsea ultimately accomplished a giant massacre.
Lyon, last year’s champions and a record eight-time winner of the competition, came to London needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit and almost did so when they were leading 2-1 on aggregate with seconds left. a play.
But Mjelde showed composure to keep her side and then keeper Ann-Katrin Berger made two superb saves in a shootout that Hayes couldn’t bear to watch.
« We’ve never won a penalty shootout as a team, so can you imagine what’s going on in my head, » she said of extra time.
“I had to be aware that the penalty takers were [still] on the pitch because I couldn’t see any buts in us to be honest.
“When I saw Lyon’s substitutes come off the bench – us after us, all the world-class talent – I felt we had handled the situation well. It was the most character-building performance, even if it was the ugliest. »
- (Site notre blog d’information) Daily podcast: UWCL semi-finals await Hayes’ Chelsea
« I can’t believe what I saw »
Hayes said Lyon would come for Chelsea after their first leg defeat in France but made it clear that « momentum would turn » more of a penalty shootout decider but would become likely.
The Blues, already without injured England defense Millie Bright, lost Eve Perisset and Melanie Leupolz to injuries during the game, while fatigue also began to creep in among those remaining on the pitch.
« Our depth wasn’t great and the players had to play multiple roles, » Hayes said. « For Maren [Mjelde] do what she did with the last kick of the game… she’s a Chelsea legend. »
Former Leeds striker Lucy Ward told DAZN: « I can’t believe what we just witnessed. It was tight all the way.
“It was an incredible effort from everyone involved. Chelsea had their blessings, the players were up at the end of extra time.
“The momentum flowed and ebbed throughout the two-legged encounter. A fantastic effort from Chelsea. »
Berger’s « moment » as a story created at Stamford Bridge
Mjelde produced heroism from the penalty spot – scoring in both overtime and the shootout – but Berger had the last laugh.
His two superb saves to deny Wendie Renard and Lindsey Horan unveiled a flurry of celebration at Stamford Bridge – Berger sliding to the corner flag in front of a debut ovation.
The 32 year old player revealed in august that after four years without cancer, her disease had returned and she was forced to undergo further treatment, making her achievements on Europe’s biggest stage even more remarkable.
« He’s someone who really thrives in the big moments and has done that his entire career, » Hayes said.
« She’s probably the best buttkeeper I’ve ever worked with, as I felt really confident before the shootout.
« I felt like it was her moment considering everything she’s been through. »
Berger added: “The girls know I love penalty shootouts. I don’t feel any pressure. They must score, not me! »
Meanwhile, Mjelde, who came on in the 73rd minute, said she « had no feelings » when she took the crucial penalty in the dying seconds of extra time.
“We fought until the end. A crazy game to come back like we did. We never give up,” she added.
“There was a delay then [I had to] concentrate, I had no feelings, just get rid of all the feelings in my body. Take my time, concentrate.
“It’s a moment we will never forget. We made history together at home, at Stamford Bridge, in front of our fans. Perfect, that’s what we were dreaming of. »
Chelsea, who remain in the Women’s Super League title chase and also have an FA Cup semi-final ahead, say they will need to recreate those special moments to qualify for the Champions League final.
Barcelona – the Spanish giants who beat Chelsea in the 2021 final – stand in their way into the last four when Hayes chases the only trophy that has eluded him in his managerial career.