Emma Hayes said it was “like being back with family” when she returned to the dugout for Chelsea’s 3-0 Women’s Super League win over Tottenham.
Hayes had been missing since early October as she recovered from surgery.
It was a comfortable win thanks to goals from Sam Kerr, Erin Cuthbert and Guro Reiten.
Hayes said: “My back was killing me in the second half, but I didn’t feel like I was out. I just felt like I was going to be back with my family.”
The match was played in front of 38,300 fans at Stamford Bridge, a record home crowd for Chelsea Women.
The win moves Chelsea three points clear at the top of the WSL after they, Arsenal and Manchester United started Sunday level on 18 points from seven games following United’s extraordinary 3-2 win at the Emirates Stadium Saturday.
Hayes returns home
Hayes, 46, has been out for six weeks following an emergency hysterectomy as part of her “ongoing battle with endometriosis”.
In his absence, assistant Denise Reddy and general manager Paul Green have guided the team to six wins from six in all competitions, and there was little doubt Hayes would pick up where his colleagues left off.
In a typically irreverent press conference afterwards, in which he answered the phone to Kerr halfway through, before saying he had baked cookies and banana bread rather than watch Chelsea from home given his confidence in his staff, Hayes he said: “On the side of the pitch, when you’re without the ball, you can be more stressed about something.
“At home against Man Utd I felt comfortable in the first half, and I’m not sure everyone felt comfortable on the side of the pitch, you can’t be relaxed.
“Today, even when the game started to wind down, I used my experience from home and relaxed, at least during the parts of the game that could stress the team.
“I don’t want to be at home on the sofa anymore Harry [her son] he wants me there but no
“Mostly I was left alone – I needed to recover, I was unwell. I don’t think I spoke to Millie. [Bright] and Magda [Eriksson] for two weeks, which I really needed.
“I feel like a mother hen, coming back.”
Kerr scored on 12 minutes with Chelsea’s first decent chance. A brilliant ball from the back opened Spurs up like a can of beans, the Australian shrugged off her defender, had the freedom of Stamford Bridge to step in and slot the ball into the far corner in front of the goalkeeper and three covering defenders.
Having quieted the crowd in the opening 10 minutes, it was a poor goal for Spurs to concede and they never quite recovered.
Rehanne Skinner’s side won 8-0 against Brighton in their previous WSL game on October 30 – a waterlogged pitch canceled their game against Everton before the international break – but he looked like a shadow of this team.
Skinner said afterwards: “There were some positives to take from the game in terms of how we played with possession at times, I thought we moved the ball really well, created some chances going into the final third, but I don’t think we were as convincing in our shooting opportunities as we probably should have been.
“We made some mistakes and they took advantage of them and ultimately it cost us today.”
Chelsea’s comfortable win will also reassure Hayes that he can cope with the absence of Pernille Harder, who picked up a hamstring injury while on international duty with Denmark.
Cuthbert celebrates the signing with a wonder goal
Cuthbert this week signed a new deal that will keep her at Chelsea until 2025, nine years after she joined as a teenager.
He celebrated by scoring a stunning goal in the 26th minute, slotting home a corner kick and volleying into the top corner from 20 yards. Spurs keeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela got a hand to it but couldn’t stop it.
Hayes said of Cuthbert: “I’m sure I won’t stop hearing about it. It was an outstanding goal from an outstanding player.”
It was 3-0 soon after when Ashleigh Neville cut down Lauren James in the box. Reiten was an unexpected choice to step up but confidently sent Korpela the wrong way.
From then on it was a straightforward afternoon for the hosts in a game that marked the 30th anniversary of the official foundation of the women’s team.
They could have had more – Bright hit the crossbar and Beth England went over the crossbar with her heel – but a Mexican surge midway through the second half showed how comfortable the game had become.
The attendance dwarfed the 24,564 who saw Chelsea take on Spurs at Stamford Bridge in 2019, making it a successful afternoon for Chelsea and Hayes.
15He would have died22Cuthbert5english11walk
- 26BuchananReplaced byNouwenat 78′minutes
- 16ErikssonReplaced byCarterat 51′minutes
- 15He would have died
- 22CuthbertReplaced byKirbyat 66′minutes
- 11walkReplaced bySvitkovaat 77′minutes
- 20KerrReplaced byEnglandat 66′minutes
- 19Riding Kaneryd
- 14IldhusøyBooked 9 minutes awayReplaced byAyaneat 69′minutes
- 25SummanenBooked at 62 minutes
- 29NevilleBooked at 36 minutesReplaced byMay God bless youat 83′minutes
- 8To give
- 18May God bless you
Referee: Rebecca Welch
End of match, Chelsea Women 3, Tottenham Hotspur Women 0.
End of second half, Chelsea Women 3, Tottenham Hotspur Women 0.
failed attempt Attempt missed. Bethany England (Chelsea Women) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Aniek Nouwen.
Offside, Tottenham Hotspur Women. Drew Spence tries a through ball but Rosella Ayane is in an offside position.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Corner taken by Asmita Ale.
failed attempt Attempt missed. Drew Spence (Tottenham Hotspur Women) right footed shot from the center of the box is too high. Assisted by Chioma Ubogagu with a cross into the area.
Offside, Tottenham Hotspur Women. Shelina Zadorsky tries a through ball but Angharad James is in an offside position.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur Women. Corner taken by Ève Périsset.
Change, Tottenham Hotspur Women. Chioma Ubogagu replaces Ashleigh Neville
Offside, Chelsea Women. Bethany England tries a through ball but Katerina Svitková is in an offside position.
Jess Carter (Chelsea Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Rosella Ayane (Tottenham Hotspur Women).
Change to Chelsea Women’s. Aniek Nouwen replaces Kadeisha Buchanan.
Change to Chelsea Women’s. Katerina Svitková replaces Guro Reiten.
failed attempt Attempt missed. Rosella Ayane (Tottenham Hotspur Women) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jessica Naz.
Attempt blocked. Bethany England (Chelsea Women) header from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Guro Reiten with a cross into the box.
Corner, Chelsea Women. Corner taken by Tinja-Riikka Korpela.
Attempt blocked. Lauren James (Chelsea Women) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Sophie Ingle.
Foul by Fran Kirby (Chelsea Women).
Amy Turner (Tottenham Hotspur Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.