Pernille Harder was the hero for the second week running as Chelsea Women beat Juventus 2-1 in the Champions League.
The Blues needed a late Harder goal to claim a point in their opening group match with Wolfsburg and the Danish international was on hand to score the winner at the Allianz Stadium.
The striker is in superb form with four goals in her last five games and she is making a habit of digging her team out of holes. The Blues were struggling to break down a resilient Leicester side in the WSL on Sunday before Harder came off the bench to break the deadlock in the 80th minute.
Pernille Harder’s 69th minute goal gave Chelsea the win over Juventus on Wednesday night
Chelsea managed to claim all three points after some poor defending saw them draw their Champions League group stage opener against Wolfsburg last week
But this is why Emma Hayes’ side paid a record transfer fee for the 28-year-old last summer. It came as no surprise to see Harder’s name on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or last week and she will be one of the contenders to win that prize later this year.
‘She had an outstanding performance,’ said Hayes of her match-winner. ‘She’s taken us to an even higher level because her standards, day in day out, are what every young person should look up to.
‘She takes responsibility, she’s accountable, she’s there when it really, really matters. She’s a key player for this team and I’m so delighted she’s part of this squad.
‘We showed once again the ability to adapt to the demands of the game. The performance from the team was mixed but I felt we were resilient enough and took our chances when it mattered.’
Montemurro’s last triumph over Hayes came in 2018 when his Arsenal side beat Chelsea 5-0
Lina Hurtig started brightly and looked to cause problems in behind Chelsea’s defence
But it was Chelsea who grew into the game and started to dominate possession, with Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr almost combining for the opener
After dropping points against Wolfsburg last week, Chelsea knew they really needed a victory in Turin and it was a familiar face who was looking to stop them.
Joe Montemurro’s last triumph over Hayes came in 2018 when his Arsenal side beat Chelsea 5-0. But his last six games against the Blues’ resulted in five defeats and a draw.
The Australian left the Gunners at the end of last season and while his former club are blossoming under new boss Jonas Eidevall, Montemurro has made an impressive start in Turin.
Juve are joint top of Serie A and have won all of their six games, scoring 14 goals and conceding just one.
Juventus (4-3-3): Peyraud-Magnin, Lundorf, Gama, Salvai (Lenzini 73), Boattin, Rosucci (Caruso 81) Pedersen, Cernoia, Bonansea (Bonfantini 72), Hurtig, Girelli (Staskova 81)
Subs not used: Giai, Nilden, Pfattner, Beccari, Aprile, Zamanian, Hyyrynen
Goals: Cuthbert 31, Harder 68
Chelsea (3-4-3): Berger, Bright, Carter, Eriksson, Cuthbert (Fleming 65), Leupolz, Ji (Ingle 74) , Reiten, Kirby (Andersson 83), Kerr, Harder
Subs not used: Telford, Spence, Fox, Nuowen, Musovic, Charles, Mjelde, England
Goals: Bonansea 37
Referee: Ivana Martinic
They beat Swiss side Servette 3-0 in their opening group game and it was clear from kick-off that the Italians were in a confident mood.
Lina Hurtig started brightly and looked to cause problems in behind Chelsea’s defence, with Jess Carter having to be on her toes to stop the striker getting a shot off early on.
But it was Chelsea who grew into the game and started to dominate possession, with Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr almost combining for the opener, but the Australian’s shot was inadvertently blocked by team-mate Ji So-Yun.
The Blues did break the deadlock on the half hour mark, however. Erin Cuthbert found space on the right wing, took one touch to come inside then raced in the box and finished calmly into the bottom right corner.
But Juve were level just six minutes later when Lisa Boattin’s cross from the left wing found Barbara Bonansea at the back post, who beat Guro Reiten to the ball to place a side-footed first-time volley into the bottom corner.
The Blues were almost given a gift just before half-time when Juve goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin dithered on the ball and was charged down by Kerr. The striker managed to block the ‘keeper’s clearance but the ball bounced narrowly wide of the post.
Chelsea had a great chance to retake the lead in the 58th minute when Reiten pulled the ball back to Harder on the penalty spot, but her finish flew just wide of the post.
But the Danish international more than made up for that miss 10 minutes later when she fired her side in front. Kerr’s blocked shot fell kindly for the striker and she placed a first-time effort past Peyraud-Magnin.
The Juve goalkeeper was responsible for the score remaining 2-1 when she made a stunning one-handed save to keep out Kerr’s fierce shot, which was heading for the top left hand corner.
Nevertheless, Barbara Bonansea did provide Juventus with one goal on Wednesday evening
Chelsea’s victory puts Emma Hayes’ side second in Group A, level on points with Wolfsburg
‘I feel like I’m in the flow. I’ve had a good pre-season, worked hard and feel I’ve adapted into the team now,’ said Harder. ‘This is how a Champions League evening should feel like. It felt like it was full, fans shouting, I wish it was Chelsea fans but it was amazing.’
Chelsea’s victory puts them second in Group A, level on points with Wolfsburg but with an inferior goal difference.
But with Wolfsburg and Juve facing back-to-back games against each other, Chelsea have a chance to cement their place at the top if they can beat Servette home and away.
‘We’re in a strong position, four points. That’s what you want to be in,’ said Hayes. ‘We know that for us it’s not about away goals anymore, it’s about getting points on the board.
‘Our intentions and objectives are clear and I think we’re one step closer to that.’