UEFA Women's Champions League 2021: Pernille Harder scores dramatic equaliser against former club as Chelsea snatch draw
Harder, who scored in both legs in the pair's last meeting at the quarter-final stage of last year's competition, scored at the death to secure a 3-3 draw for Emma Hayes' side. Chelsea had appeared set to pay for a succession of defensive lapses but earned a point at Kingsmeadow. Elsewhere, there were hard-fought wins for Real Madrid and PSG.
Pernille Harder of Chelsea celebrates scoring her teams third goal during the UEFA Women's Champions League group A match between Chelsea FC Women and VfL Wolfsburg at Kingsmeadow
Wolfsburg, deploying a high line, were well exploited by a beautifully weighted clipped pass from Ji So-Yun, and the Australian provided a lovely dinked finish over the goalkeeper.
Yet the Germans would soon hit back. Totally against the run of play, a long ball forward bounced awkwardly towards the Chelsea box, with neither goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger or captain Magda Eriksson taking command.
Tabea Waßmuth pilfered the ball from the pair and slotted into the empty net to equalise.
From there, Wolfsburg grew in confidence, continuing to press high up the pitch and eventually forcing a second Chelsea error.
Berger’s foolish passed goal kick put her teammates under pressure and Wolfsburg pounced, with Jill Roord, signed in the summer from Arsenal, placing her side-footed finish like a surgeon’s scalpel with perfect precision into the corner.
Jill Roord of VfL Wolfsburg celebrates with Pia-Sophie Wolter after scoring their side's second goal during the UEFA Women's Champions League group A match between Chelsea FC Women and VfL Wolfsburg at Kingsmeadow on October 06, 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
Soon after half-time the third arrived, again thanks to an erratum in Chelsea’s attempt to craft a clearance.
A retreating Jess Carter failed to find the purchase on her backpass, leaving Berger stranded away from her goal as Waßmuth curled another well-placed finish beyond her.
An answer simply had to come as Chelsea threatened to entirely capitulate, and did, Beth England turning home after Wolfsburg failed to clear a goalmouth scramble.
Fran Kirby was introduced on the hour-mark and Sophie Ingle five minutes from full-time as Hayes desperately sought an equaliser.
And it arrived at the last halfway through four minutes of stoppage time, Harder pouncing as Wolfsburg lost focus defensively with the game almost won to salvage a point.
- - -
In the other Group A fixture, Juventus beat Swiss champions Servette FCCF 3-0 at the Stade de Geneve.
Arianna Caruso opened the scoring in the first half after striker Andrea Staskova had missed from the penalty spot, before two goals in five minutes midway through the second half put the game beyond doubt.
The Italian side registered 22 shots in a promising opening performance, with Lina Hurtig and Valentina Cernoia scoring to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
- - -
Real Madrid struggled to put away Zhytlobud-1 in a tough opening away fixture in Group B, winning 1-0.
The Spanish capital club have endured a dreadful start to the season, registering just a single goal and a single point from five Primera Division games.
They were made to work hard by the Ukrainian side, dominating the ball but forcing few clear chances and were eventually grateful for Lorena Navarro’s 33rd minute, which decided the encounter.
- - -
At the Women's Champions League's northern out-post, Icelandic side Breidablik showed remarkable resolve as they nearly held Paris Saint-Germain Feminines.
Karitas Tomasdottir of Breidablik battles for possession with Grace Geyoro of Paris Saint-Germain during the UEFA Women's Champions League group B match between Breidablik and Paris Saint-Germain at Kopavogsvollur on October 06, 2021 in Kopavogur, Iceland
Image credit: Getty Images
The club are playing their entire Champions League campaign in their offseason after the conclusion of their domestic season last week, supplementing their European fixtures with friendlies against the club’s boys’ team.
The French side found an early goal through Lea Khelifi but failed to add to their tally for most of their game thereafter despite having more than three-quarters of possession in Iceland,
Grace Geyoro eventually scored a second but Breidablik showed they will be far from Group B walkovers, particularly at home.