Player ratings as outperforming the Blues reduce victory

Chelsea came close to qualifying for the Champions League quarter-finals with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

Second half goals from Sophie Engel and Erin Cuthbert proved to be the difference in a tight Kingsmeadow encounter.

The first half was marked by very few chances. And Fran Kirby drew an extended save from Mesa Rodriguez within three minutes after some trademark link-up match-up with Sam Kerr as Chelsea went wide. But Real got the better of the game, as Caroline Weir saw a goal-goal save from Kadisha Buchanan as the 45th opener ended scoreless.

After finishing the first half strongly, Real Madrid picked up where they left off at the start of the second half, testing Anne-Katrin Berger with Naomi Feller’s cross after winger Magdalena Eriksson edged past.

Introduced early in the second period, Jesse Fleming and Lauren James breathed new life into the Chelsea team with their energy and flair.

Having hardly threatened since the opening exchanges, Chelsea were required to take the lead in the 68th minute. Erin Cuthbert’s corner was crossed by Millie Bright, and Engel headed home.

Real went looking for an equalizer, with the right winger continuing to be a danger for the visitors. Kentie Robles delivered a thrilling receipt for Esther to hold onto, but once again Buchanan was on hand to make an important tackle.

Moments later, Chelsea doubled their advantage – and in accidental circumstances, when Cuthbert’s attempted cross from the right inadvertently went into the top corner.

Niamh Charles fired into the side-netting with time running out after James found him superbly, as Chelsea eventually ran out deserved winners.

Niamh Charles

Niamh Charles started at right-back for Chelsea/Warren Little/Getty Images

GK: Ann Katherine Berger – 6/10 – He got an important touch on a dangerous cross from Villiers in the second half and had a couple of nice saves, but was up to the task.

Right-back: Niamh Charles – 7/10 – He looked lively and was constantly up and down, seeing an over-volley that almost caught Mesa landing on the roof of the net in the first half, seeing another attempt hit the side-netting. The second after another foray ahead.

Centre-back: Kadisha Buchanan – 8/10 – Produced an important blocker to deflect Weir’s effort with a goal in the first half, and another to deny Esther in the second half.

Center back: Millie Bright – 8/10 – Cut pass after pass for the Blues in the back. He won by pass to set up Ingle for Chelsea’s opener.

LEFT BACK: Magdalena Ericsson – 5/10 – Villier lost it quickly in the second half as Real created one of the most dangerous openings of the match, with Real often carrying their biggest threat to Chelsea’s left.

CM: Sophie Ingle – 7/10 – Great determination to get her head to the ball first and put Chelsea up 1-0. It is usually arranged and mounted.

CM: Erin Cuthbert – 7/10 – Provided the curling set from which Chelsea opened the scoring, before getting on the scoresheet with a cross shot.

Right winger: Johanna Rytting Kaneryd – 5/10 – Wasn’t quite able to control the ball during Chelsea’s promising first-half attack. She showed glimpses of her magical feet, but was substituted an hour earlier after failing to get the better of Real Madrid’s defence.

AM: Fran Kirby – 5/10 – Back in the starting lineup after a period of illness. Misa was tested within three minutes on low effort after working the corner herself, but this would prove to be her brightest moment, as she struggled to have much influence on the proceedings.

Left-back: Guro Reiten – 6/10 – Has appeared well on several occasions to help out in defence.

Forward: Sam Kerr – 6/10 – Combined well with Kirby to create Chelsea’s best opening in the first half. She introduced a large defensive fit and removed her stockings.

SUB: Lauren James (55 minutes to Rytting Kaneryd) – 7/10

SUB: Jesse Fleming (55 minutes to Kirby) – 6/10

SUB: Jess Carter (79 minutes to Ryton) – 6/10

Irene Cuthbert and Claudia Zornosa

Claudia Zornosa challenges Erin Cuthbert/Warren Little/Getty Images

GK: Misa Rodriguez – 6/10 – Kirby’s effort was steered around the post in the space of three minutes with a great stretch.

Right-back: Kente Robles – 6/10 – He advanced frequently as Real’s right wing carried his biggest threat in the first half. He delivered a teasing cross which Esther came close to getting on the scoresheet in the second half.

CB: Kathleen – 6/10 – prevented Chelsea from scoring the third goal by sending the ball impressively wide of the line.

CB: Ivana Andres – 5/10 – Lost track of Engel’s markers as the Chelsea midfielder scored the Blues’ lead from a corner kick.

Left-back: Olga Carmona – 5/10 – Retting-Canried kept relatively calm, but struggled more against James in the second half.

CM: Claudia Zornosa – 6/10 – The quarter-back held on admirably, but was unable to stop Cuthbert’s cross from which Chelsea doubled their lead.

CM: Freja Olofsson — 5/10 — Fore protection for the rear quad, allowing the real four to move forward freely. He lost in the air to Bright in building Chelsea’s opener.

Right-back: Naomi Feller – 7/10 – A major attacking threat, he beat Eriksson in the second half to create one of Real’s most dangerous openings. He was surprisingly substituted on the hour mark, as he was arguably the most dangerous attacking player in her team.

AM: Caroline Weir – 6/10 – Good on the ball, and saw a game-tying save by Buchanan, but tended to drift in and out of the game and faded in the second half.

Left-back: Mighty Oroz – 5/10 – Really kept his cool and not able to make a huge attacking impact on the game.

Striker: Esther (86′ for Moller) – 5/10 – saw her only vision of the target being sniffed by Buchanan and left largely to feed on scraps.

SUB: Sofie Svava (62 minutes to Feller) – 5/10

SUB: Rocío Galvez (80 min for Olofsson) – 5/10

Sub: Nadakari Garcia (80 min for Carmona) – 5/10

SUB: Sandy Tolletti (86 min for Zornoza) – N/A

SUB: Caroline Mueller (86 min for Esther) N/A

Man of the match: Mille Bright (Chelsea).

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