Chelsea 3-3 Wolfsburg: Pernille Harder scores late equaliser in Women’s Champions League opener

Pernille Harder – Wolfsburg must be sick of their former star.

The Chelsea Women striker scored three goals to help knock her former side out of last season’s Champions League quarter-final. 

And it was the Danish international who was on hand to deny the Bundesliga team what would have been a huge victory at Kingsmeadow. 

Chelsea forward Pernille Harder scored a stoppage-time equaliser to earn draw vs Wolfsburg

Harder popped up in the right place at the right time to smash the ball into the Wolfsburg net

Harder popped up in the right place at the right time to smash the ball into the Wolfsburg net

It was written in the script that Harder would score the goal against her former club

It was written in the script that Harder would score the goal against her former club

Wolfsburg's Dominique Janssen has her head in her hands after conceding the late equaliser

Wolfsburg’s Dominique Janssen has her head in her hands after conceding the late equaliser

MATCH FACTS

CHELSEA WOMEN: (3-4-3) Berger; Bright, Carter, Eriksson; Cuthbert, Leupolz, Ji (Fleming 75), Reiten (Charles 75); England (Kirby 64), Kerr, Mosegaard-Harder

SUBS NOT USED: Musovic, Nouwen, Ingle, Mjelde, Spence, Andersson, Telford, Fox

GOALS: Kerr (12); England (51); Harder (90+2)

BOOKINGS: None

COACH: Emma Hayes

WOLFSBURG WOMEN: (4-4-2) Schult; Wedemeyer, Hendrich, Janssen, Rauch; Huth, Oberdorf, Lattwein, Wolter (Starke 88); Wassmuth (Knaak 79), Roord (van de Sanden 70)

SUBS NOT USED: Blasse, Kassen, Smits, Svava, Weiss, Cordes

GOALS: Wassmuth (18, 48); Roord (34)

BOOKINGS: Wassmuth (9), Roord (38), Oberdorf (79)

COACH: Tommy Stroot

REFEREE: Lina Lehtovaara (Finland)

VENUE: Kingsmeadow (London)

The striker netted in the 92nd minute to grab a point for Emma Hayes’ side in their opening group stage match.

After heartbreak in last year’s final, the Blues were looking for a strong start and a sublime goal from Sam Kerr to put her side 1-0 up in the 11th minute seemed to indicate this would be their night.

But a catalogue of defensive errors gave Wolfsburg two goals before half-time and another straight after the second half whistle. 

But Hayes has built a team of winners and there was never any chance of them giving up.

‘They’re not tactical problems, they’re just errors – all three goals,’ Hayes said after the game. 

‘I think we’ve seen our team be able to score goals but we shouldn’t have to score three goals every game but it’s a point gained, I’m going to focus on that.

‘Every time we’ve played Wolfsburg I don’t think we’ve dominated those areas as much as we did (tonight).

‘I take points, our job is to qualify from the group. We went from zero to one point quite quickly.

‘Pernille has found her role in the team this season. Her role in the team is very defined. 

‘I’m not surprised she got that late equaliser, I think the belief is always there in the team that we can get goals.

‘I’m not going to talk about the three goals we conceded because I think it’s obvious for everyone to see.’

Chelsea started on the front foot with Harder firing a shot just wide before Ji So-yun’s free-kick was almost carried over the line by Wolfsburg goalkeeper Almuth Schult.

Sam Kerr gave Chelsea an early lead with a delightful lobbed finish after 12 minutes

Sam Kerr gave Chelsea an early lead with a delightful lobbed finish after 12 minutes

Kerr brilliantly lifted the ball over the Wolfsburg to put the Blues in front at Kingsmeadow

Kerr brilliantly lifted the ball over the Wolfsburg to put the Blues in front at Kingsmeadow

The Chelsea players run to celebrate with Kerr after getting off to a perfect start at home

The Chelsea players run to celebrate with Kerr after getting off to a perfect start at home

The opener came in the eighth minute when Ji’s perfectly weighted pass found Kerr, who dinked the ball over an on-rushing Schult to put Chelsea ahead.

The Blues were in control as they looked to double their lead but against the run of play, they found themselves level in the 16th minute. Magdalena Eriksson tried to shepherd the ball back to Ann-Katrin Berger but Tabea Waßmuth nipped in between them to push the ball past the goalkeeper and finish from a tight angle.

That goal changed the dynamic, with Wolfsburg gaining in confidence, and they took the lead just past the half hour mark following more miscommunication in the Chelsea defence. 

Berger tried to play a short pass to Leupolz from a goal-kick but the midfielder was beaten to the ball by Oberdorf, who laid it back to former Arsenal forward Jill Roord to fire into the bottom left corner.

A mistake from Jess Carter completed a hat-trick of errors for the hosts at the start of the second half. The defender’s under-hit back-pass to Berger was pounced on by Waßmuth, who again finished from a tight angle with the Blues’ ‘keeper stranded. 

However, a lapse in concentration saw Tabea Wassmuth get in an score in front of an empty net

However, a lapse in concentration saw Tabea Wassmuth get in an score in front of an empty net

The Wolfsburg players celebrate their equaliser, which came minutes after the opener

The Wolfsburg players celebrate their equaliser, which came minutes after the opener

Another mix-up at the back for Chelsea saw Wolfsburg take the lead in the first half

Another mix-up at the back for Chelsea saw Wolfsburg take the lead in the first half

Things went from bad to worse for the Blues when Wassmuth (left) doubled her tally

Things went from bad to worse for the Blues when Wassmuth (left) doubled her tally

Chelsea were quick to respond, however, with Beth England reacting first to a loose ball from a corner to make it 3-2 just four minutes later.

Fran Kirby had started on the bench with the England forward suffering with a cold but she came on for England in the 63rd minute but struggled to have an impact as Wolfsburg sat in to defend their lead.

Erin Cuthbert and Kerr both missed late chances to bring Chelsea level. First, Cuthbert fired wide from the edge of the box in the 84th minute before Kerr placed a header straight at Schult moments later.

But then came Harder. The striker was alive in the box when Leupolz burst through the Wolfsburg defence and she took the ball off her team-mate to fire underneath a helpless Schult. 

A point gained after being 3-1 down in the 46th minute, but Chelsea will perhaps feel they could have taken all three had they shown more composure in front of their own goal. 

However, Chelsea responded immediately with Beth England making it 3-2 120 seconds later

However, Chelsea responded immediately with Beth England making it 3-2 120 seconds later

England celebrates her goal before quickly sprinting back to her half to get play restarted

England celebrates her goal before quickly sprinting back to her half to get play restarted

’Unfortunately it was three silly mistakes, we know that is not our standard,’ said Chelsea captain Eriksson. 

‘We dominated today, it’s not often that you dominate against a team like Wolfsburg. Mistakes happen. We came out and started the game really well, it’s clear to see how much we’ve grown as a team and the quality we have in the squad and being able to fight until the end.

‘We knew we were drawn in a difficult group. The fact we got the draw today means we are very confident we can go away to Juventus and get points there.’

The Blues play Juventus in their second group game next week before facing Swiss side Servette on November 9.

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