Looking Forward

Stuff that matters

Fran Kirby scored twice at Benfica to become Chelsea’s record goalscorer in a thumping 5-0 victory while Manchester City recovered from a goal down to beat Gothenburg 2-1 in the last 32 of the Women’s Champions League.

On the eve of the competition the Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, had said the England forward “is in the form of her life” and “setting new standards for herself every day.” In Portugal, it showed, as two goals from Kirby – the first slotted home in the first minute of the game after Danish forward Pernille Harder cut the ball back for the England international from the left – ensured Chelsea’s return to the competition, having missed out last term, ended in victory.

“I love this competition and I’ve worked hard with my staff and the club to build a team that hopefully can keep progressing,” said Hayes. “I won’t make excuses, we really have to push if we’re going to break into that last half, regardless of Lyon’s result today.”

Three assists from Guro Reiten, who joined Chelsea in May 2019, the first from a free kick for defender Millie Bright to meet at the back post, the second to Kirby and a corner for Harder to head in, ensured they were firmly in control at the break.

South Korean playmaker Ji So Yun had time for an assist for Beth England, Chelsea’s fifth, before making way as Hayes rotated.

Reigning champions Lyon twice came from behind as Juventus came close to inflicting a first Champions League defeat on the French Champions since 2017. In the end, Lyon have three away goals to take back to France following a 3-2 victory but the Italian champions, who are yet to win a Champions League game, have shown that Lyon are not infallible.

Meanwhile, a first Champions League goal for US World Cup winner Sam Mewis earned Manchester City an important away win against Gothenburg in the round of 32.

Manager Gareth Taylor was given a tough introduction to European football as a second-minute goal from Norwegian forward Vilde Boe Risa gave the Swedish side the lead. City were dominant but it took until the end of the first half for Taylor’s side to draw level, with a rasping strike from England forward Georgia Stanway, her 50th for the club, from the edge of the area flying in off the post.

With 65% of possession City stayed patient and eventually they found the winner, Mewis heading back across goal and in from Caroline Weir’s clipped cross.

“We’re going to dress it up, it should have probably be an improved result on what we finished with,” said Taylor. “But after the start we had I thought the girls showed resilience, we controlled the game and gave them limited.”

Elsewhere, Scottish champions and last season’s surprise semi-finalists, Glasgow City, grabbed an important away goal in a 2-1 defeat to Sparta Prague and last season’s runner’s up Wolfsburg put five past ZFK Spartak.