Chelsea Ladies, despite loss, had big night at Stamford Bridge
By Michael Weightman
Last Updated: 07/10/16 3:20pm
Sky Sports News reporter Michael Weightman blogs on a special night at Stamford Bridge for the Chelsea Ladies.
Stamford Bridge has seen some special nights in its history, but perhaps none as significant as Wednesday when Chelsea Ladies had their first run out on the famous pitch in the UEFA Women's Champions League against Wolfsburg.
It was a statement of intent from the club who, in the words of chairman Bruce Buck, have "a desire to push on even further and become a heavyweight of Europe."
These aren't just words, they mean business.
Walking up to the ground on the evening of the game, the names on the back of the shirts in the club shop weren't Costa, Hazard or Luiz.
They were Rafferty, Aluko or Kirby.
There were media outlets from all over the world - one from as a far afield as South Korea hoping to grab a word with Ji So-Yun.
Among the 3,783 in attendance was England head coach Mark Sampson, who was there to keep an eye on a host of his international players and giving another sign of how far the team have come since forming in 1992.
They have only been associated with the club since 2004, but under the stewardship of current manager Emma Hayes, they have continued to progress, with last year's league and cup double evidence of that.
The game itself saw Zsanett Jakabfi net a hat trick in a 3-0 win for Wolfsburg, a result that puts them in a commanding position ahead of next week's second leg.
The German side have reached the final in three of the last four seasons and could even afford to leave the competition's highest scorer, Anja Mittag, on the bench.
It was always going to be a difficult task, but the reactions to the loss showed what the team is now about.
When asked if she would look back on a game at Stamford Bridge and be happy, Hayes said, "No, absolutely not. I can't.
"I'm a competitor and I wanted my team to put in a better performance in our first opportunity here."
Eni Aluko added: "Whether you are playing in a park or Stamford Bridge or Wembley, you want to win football matches.
"I don't look back with fondness on any loss, wherever it is. It's disappointing that the first time our fans have come out to Stamford Bridge they have seen us lose, but it's not all doom and gloom. Let's hope in future they come back and we win."
There's a determination to continue to grow with more quality players in the team, and off the pitch, a new stadium to share with the academy looks to be in the offing.
It's an exciting time in women's football, and while it's been a meteoric rise for Chelsea Ladies since the early 1990s, it pretty clear that there is still plenty more to come.