Maren Mjelde converted a penalty at the end of extra time to force a shoot-out in which Ann-Katrin Berger saved twice to dethrone holders Lyon.
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Chelsea have knocked out UEFA Women's Champions League holders Lyon in a quarter-final of rare drama, digging deep to level the tie at the end of extra time before prevailing on penalties.
Chelsea had won 1-0 at Lyon and held their aggregate advantage for 77 minutes at Stamford Bridge. Then Vanessa Gilles struck, and in extra time Sara Däbritz put Lyon ahead, only for Maren Mjelde to convert a penalty with the final kick. That meant a shoot-out and, in her 100th Chelsea game, Ann-Katrin Berger saved twice to set up a semi-final with the Blues' 2021 final conquerors, Barcelona.
6' Bruun blasts over
15' Endler denies Kerr
24' James shot saved by Endler
77' Gilles levels tie on aggregate
110' Däbritz puts Lyon ahead
120+4' Mjelde converts to force a shoot-out
Penalties Berger denies Renard and Horan to win it
Match in brief: Chelsea hold their nerve
With key central defender Millie Bright injured, Chelsea paired captain Magdalena Eriksson with ex-Lyon player Kadeisha Buchanan, in a defence also featuring former OL right-back Ève Périsset. And there were two early scares for the home side when first Berger parried a Delphine Cascarino shot and Signe Bruun put the rebound over, before the Denmark forward then did similarly following a slip by Eriksson.
After 15 minutes, Chelsea conjured a great chance with the kind of counter that proved so effective in the first leg, Lauren James slipping Sam Kerr through, only for Christiane Endler to save. Endler did even better to tip over following some brilliant James footwork and a ferocious shot from a player who had scored twice here against Paris Saint-Germain in December.
Still Lyon pushed and Bruun tested Berger, but they needed something extra – and sent on competition all-time top scorer Ada Hegerberg at half-time. Her weekend comeback after nearly seven months out injured had resulted in a goal within seconds, but Chelsea prevented a repeat here, and to her frustration she flicked a header wide just past the hour.
The Blues seemed to have things under control but, with 13 minutes left, Gilles somehow squeezed a Lindsey Horan cross inside Berger's near post. Suddenly the game sparked and both teams pushed to prevent extra time, unsuccessfully.
Along with the additional half hour came pouring rain, but little in the way of chances until three Lyon substitutes combined, Vicki Becho back-heeling into the path of Hegerberg on the right, before her cross was turned in by Däbritz.
That seemed to be that. Instead, in added time, Becho brought down James in the Lyon box and Mjelde buried the spot-kick, four years after her similarly dramatic last-gasp quarter-final clincher at Paris Saint-Germain.
She also converted Chelsea's first in the shoot-out and, of all people, it was Wendie Renard who was first to be denied as Berger guessed correctly, before Endler immediately saved from James. Chelsea went 4-3 up and then, with the game on the line, Berger kept out Horan's kick to send Stamford Bridge into raptures.
Visa Player of the Match: Ann-Katrin Berger (Chelsea)
"With her penalty saves, she was the game-changer."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Lynsey Hooper, Chelsea reporter
A late, late penalty in extra time threw Chelsea a lifeline in this tie. Having conceded two goals and produced very little in front of goal in the second half and additional 30 minutes, Emma Hayes' side literally grasped victory from the jaws of defeat. Mjelde was ice cool for her successive spot kicks, while Berger produced two big penalty saves at the vital time. It wasn't the most eye-catching performance, but it was certainly a memorable win. The self-declared "mentality monsters" will need more of that resolve against Barcelona in the semi-finals.
Ian Holyman, Lyon reporter
It was cruel on Lyon, who thought they'd done enough by scoring twice. It's a tale of missed opportunities that has led them to the competition's exit door, notably the early chance for Signe Bruun that could have laid the platform for a happier night in London. Endler did what she could to keep them in the tie but could not quite deny Chelsea from the spot. But the eight-time European champions will be back.
Emma Hayes, Chelsea manager: "I definitely did not look at the [Mjelde] penalty. It was a moment I don't think I've ever experienced in my career. There is only one person this entire team wants to take the penalty, and that's Maren Mjelde. She had to take it knowing it was the last kick of the game. It had to be reset three times – that shows unbelievable character and conviction. An unbelievable Chelsea legend."
Ann-Katrin Berger, Chelsea goalkeeper and Player of the Match: "The girls know that I love penalty shoot-outs. I feel no pressure. They have to score, not me! It’s fantastic."
Maren Mjelde, Chelsea defender: "Wow! Unbelievable! We fought to the end. A crazy game to come back like we did. We never give up. It's a moment we will never forget. We made history together at home, at Stamford Bridge, in front of our fans. Perfect – it's what we dreamed of!"
Sonia Bompastor, Lyon coach: "English football is on the up, but we'll keep working hard and taking the positives out of French football. Lyon are ambitious and want to win titles. When we don't win, we'll look at it."
Ada Hegerberg, Lyon forward: "It’s a very tough defeat. Today we gave it our all. It's hard, but that's the reality. There's been a lot of good years for this club. We've been very spoilt in the recent years of success. Incredible in the Champions League; they've called it our tournament for many years now. This is a big defeat for us. We need to face it, keep our heads high, and continue to build from it."
- Chelsea are the first team, other than Paris Saint-Germain, to knock out Lyon since a Turbine Potsdam team containing Berger, Mjelde and Hegerberg in the 2013/14 round of 16.
- Chelsea were in their first European shoot-out and have reached their fourth semi-final.
- Lyon lost for only the second time in their 14 quarter-finals.
- Gilles and Däbritz both scored their first European goals for Lyon.
- This was the first time either of these teams had been involved in a two-legged tie that required extra time (though four of Lyon's ten one-off finals had gone at least that far).
- This was the first time Lyon had failed to score in the first 150 minutes of their 49 two-legged Women's Champions League ties.
- Hegerberg played her first Champions League game since scoring in the 2022 final against Barcelona.
- Berger made her 100th Chelsea appearance.
- The 15,111 crowd is a new European record home attendance for Chelsea.
Chelsea: Berger; Périsset (Mjelde 73), Buchanan, Eriksson, Carter; Cuthbert (Fleming 111), Leupolz (Ingle 71), Reiten (Rytting Kaneryd 92); James, Kerr, Charles
Lyon: Endler; Carpenter, Gilles, Renard, Bacha (Morroni 106); Egurrola (Däbritz 56); Horan, Van de Donk (Marozsán 106), Majri (Becho 73); Cascarino (Malard 97), Bruun (Hegerberg 46)
Chelsea will face Barcelona in the semi-finals in late April. Chelsea will be at home in the first leg.