Hayes admits ‘stress levels are very high’ after Chelsea’s draw with City

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes admitted her team were well short of their best in a 2-2 draw with title rivals Manchester City – a result which nevertheless kept the Blues on course to retaining their Barclays FA Women’s Super League crown.

Billed beforehand as a potential title decider, Chelesea clung on at the end to maintain their two-point lead at the top, with both sides having two games left this season.

The titanic tussle featuring international stars all across the pitch almost got off to the most dramatic of starts.
Inside two minutes City’s Chloe Kelly darted menacingly down the right before forcing Ann-Katrin Berger into a smart near-post save.

There was a scare for City when Sam Kerr’s backwards header was frantically cleared off the line by Alex Greenwood, but the Chelsea forward made no mistake in the 25th minute.

Chelsea’s leading scorer rose to meet Erin Cuthbert’s corner kick, thumping home a header from ten yards.

City roared back, though, as an unmarked Kelly converted Lauren Hemp’s cross, only for Chelsea to swiftly re-take the advantage from the penalty spot.

Pernille Harder made no mistake after City stopper Ellie Roebuck had taken out the on-rushing Kerr.

As in the first half, City forward Kelly went close early in the second with a rising effort, but Chelsea looked comfortable as the hour mark passed.

Kerr side-footed wide as a potentially killer third goal went begging, with the game continuing to ebb and flow.

That miss was punished with 14 minutes left when Hemp stabbed home to even it up again after Millie Bright fluffed her attempt at clearing Kelly’s cross.

Hemp and Lucy Bronze both went close as City pressed for a breath-taking winner at the death, but Chelsea stood firm to take a point back to the capital.

Hayes said: “Sam was the difference for us. She was just relentless tonight. She’s a wonderful athlete and a wonderful human being.

“It wasn’t a good performance – we made hard work of it in the second half, and some of our overall play was poor by our usual very high standards – but we did enough, and we took our goals well.

“I just need to process tonight’s game now. My stress levels are very high after the game, and so I’m just glad that one’s over and we’ve got through it.”

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