Emma Hayes: ‘Ask me at the end of the season’ if Chelsea form has dropped

Chelsea suffered their first-ever loss against Manchester United on Sunday, falling to a 2-1 defeat at Leigh Sports Village. Emma Hayes’ side will now miss the final of the Adobe Women’s FA Cup as a result, and the Chelsea boss cited ‘big refereeing calls’ as a contributing factor.

Addressing the media post-match, Hayes said that the semifinal clash was ‘a game we dominated, but you can’t give two goals so early in the game against top-level opponents. Listen, the first is a mistake in the first minute and the second goal is from a throw-in. They had four entries into our box in the first half, and two goals.’

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‘We had 42 entries into the box and one goal. As a team, we have to be better with that. We gave ourselves a lot to do as a result of it. They changed their game plan, sat a little bit deeper and as a result of it, we dominated the ball. It was our turn to be on the receiving end of big refereeing calls today in the box – that happens, it goes with it, but I want to say congrats to Man United. Their fans and their players put up a great fight and Mary Earps produced world-class saves.’

Chelsea looked at one point to be storming towards a quadruple: the Barclays Women’s Super League, the Adobe Women’s FA Cup, the Conti Cup and the UEFA Women’s Champions League. That dream is now dead, following Sunday’s loss and defeat at Molineux a fortnight ago.

Quizzed as to whether her side have experienced a dip in form indicative of something more serious, Hayes quipped: ‘I don’t know, ask me at the end [of the season]. We’ve lost a cup game that was fiercely competitive and we lost by conceding two goals that were conceded very early in the game, without them having to do too much.’