Chelsea 3-2 AS Roma: Blues net late winner as VAR trialled at Kingsmeadow

Despite a quick turnaround from the excitement of the Women’s World Cup, the Blues had no time to waste in getting their preseason preparations underway at Kingsmeadow. The Champions of England welcomed tough opposition in Roma – the champions of Italy.

CHE: Musovic, Fishel, Nouwen, Ingle, Leupolz, James, Reiten, Lawrence, Kirby, Mjelde, Buchanan 

ASR: Ceasar, Minami, Di Guglielmo, Kumagai, Giacinti, Giugliano, Haavi, Bartoli, Glionna, Feiersinger, Linari  

With less than two minutes on the clock, the hosts wasted no time in shrugging off the short break as Lauren James played a quick one-two, finding the return in the box and flashing an effort just wide of the post. Roma would return the favour, but it would go well over. 

Kirby nerved the fans early on with a head collision, but she was quick to get up and even quicker to dance into the box moments later – but a deflected effort meant it found the Roma goalkeeper. The English forward was showing no signs of rust as she grew into the game, keeping the energy high and pressing from the front. 

But it was the Italian side that drew first blood, as Bosshard Haavi put the ball well out of the reach of Musovic into the corner of the net, to the delight of the travelling Roma fans. 

Roma continued these marching efforts when Feiersinger forced the ball into the box for Glionna to head at goal, but this wasn’t troubling Chelsea’s keeper. 

Fifteen minutes into the game, James would release new signing Lawrence down the right-hand side, seeking her first action as a Blue, but her effort wouldn’t trouble Roma. Moments later, Reiten would set up Fishel – though she who could only head across goal as she leapt for the arial danger. 

Bartoli and Feiersinger would have a neat interchange of play down the right-hand side before releasing Giacinti, who could only smash the side-netting with the tight angle.  

Halfway through the first period, Chelsea released another ball into the box. While Kirby couldn’t get it under control, Reiten cleaned up the mess and drilled the ball into the net to restore parity.

Chelsea weren’t celebrating for long however, as Musovic was to be found picking the ball out of her net five minutes later, with Giacinti having the headache this time for the London club.

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This game of almost pinball went on, as Lauren James then found herself on the scoresheet to equalise once more. Seeing Ceasar off her line from distance, she smashed an effort over the reaching Italian.

Kirby would have her first real chance of the game in the second half – and as she was bearing through on goal, she tried to slot the ball between the legs of the opposite keeper, but it was ferociously cleared away.

With half an hour remaining, Haavi would create space for herself with a mazy run cutting in from the left-hand side and taking the shot with her right foot, but another chance went begging with the ball going straight down the midriff of Musovic. 

Chelsea were awarded a penalty on the 67th minute – and finally we got out first taste of VAR intervening. It didn’t take long before the decision was overturned, with a free-kick on the edge of the area awarded instead.

Chelsea would keep pushing however as Kirby saw a near post shot stopped, and Fleming would also have a go – but to no avail.

At the last gasp though and as the game was winding down, Beever-Jones got a tap in from a low corner to seal the victory for the Chelsea faithful. Chelsea’s WSL campaign begins on October 1 at Stamford Bridge, as they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to West London with a bumper crowd expected.