The Estadio Alfredo di Stéfano saw a heated match as Chelsea and Real Madrid tied 2-2 in their Champions League debut. Olga Carmona scored first, but Niamh Charles’s header equalized for Chelsea. Sam Kerr’s goal seemed to secure the win for Chelsea, but a controversial penalty was given to Madrid, allowing Carmona to score again.
The match was filled with competitive moments, but the focus remained on the referee’s decisions. Emma Hayes believed that her team was unfairly denied a 3-1 victory. In the last moment of the game, Charles celebrated what she thought was a winning goal and a strong individual performance. However, the goal was disallowed due to a supposed violation by Kerr. This left both the away team and their fans feeling perplexed.
Hayes expressed frustration after the game, stating that the decisions made were difficult for him. He noted that he observed from the sidelines that the tackle occurred outside of the box, and was surprised that the game officials did not see it.
“After scoring the first goal, I felt like we had control of the game. We even went up 2-1. However, a free kick was called as a penalty and we scored a valid goal with Niamh Charles, who was clearly onside. It’s disappointing. I had to double check why the goal was not allowed and it turns out that Sam was deemed to be interfering with the goalkeeper. Upon reviewing the footage, Sam was actually about seven or eight yards away from the goalkeeper.”
The match ended frustratingly for Chelsea, despite their overall control. Manager Hayes is determined to secure the only trophy she has yet to win. Leading up to the game, the main news was her appointment as head coach for the US women’s national team, and she will be moving there after the season.
Chelsea would have been fully conscious of the challenging challenge presented by Madrid. The two sides faced each other in the previous season’s group stage, during which the Spanish team gave them difficulties, especially on their own turf. In this match, Alberto Toril’s squad was missing their star midfielder, Caroline Weir, due to an ACL injury, but still had a strong lineup with players like Linda Caicedo, Carmona, and Athenea del Castillo.
The team began the game with energy, smoothly passing the ball and seeking openings in Madrid’s defense. They had a chance early on when Sjoeke Nüsken made a skilled reverse pass to Fran Kirby in the box, but Carmona’s tackle was exceptional.
Shortly after, the Spanish team’s World Cup champion was able to create trouble. Chelsea, usually quick to clear the ball, seemed unusually sluggish. Claudia Zornoza intercepted a clearance from Ann-Katrin Berger and swiftly passed it to Carmona. The defender then took a shot from 20 yards, which bounced off Millie Bright, who was unable to do anything to stop it.
At first, Chelsea seemed stunned, but they slowly gained momentum. They scored a goal right before halftime when Charles escaped his defenders and headed the ball into the net. This gave Chelsea the boost they needed as they came back onto the field playing better. Kerr had a chance to score when she sprinted past the opposition, but her shot was stopped by a strong save from Misa.
With only 15 minutes remaining, the game became more intense. Chelsea was able to score when Kerr made her signature header. However, as they were trying to secure the win, there was a dispute when Del Castillo was fouled outside of the penalty area. The referee awarded a penalty, which was converted by Carmona. Soon after, a goal was disallowed, causing Hayes’s team to only earn a draw in their start to the Champions League.