VfL Wolfsburg Women vs Chelsea Women. Women's Champions League Group A.
Ann-Katrin Berger and Drew Spence were unavailable for the final group game in Germany; Last year's runners-up needed only to avoid defeat to advance to the knockout stages; Wolfsburg, Juventus and Chelsea all finished level on 11 points, but Blues finish third
Friday 17 December 2021 14:02, UK
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said fears about a possible Covid-19 outbreak in the squad played a "major reason" behind the 4-0 defeat by Wolfsburg which knocked them out of the Women's Champions League.
Goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger and midfielder Drew Spence were unavailable for the final group game in Germany after testing positive for Covid-19.
Hayes said there is concern the group will face another Christmas affected by the virus, after a number of Chelsea players were unable to go home over the festive period last year after an outbreak in the squad.
"Our heads were all over the place, we are human beings," Hayes said. "A few days ago we had two players stuck down with COVID, we know inevitably that when we land tomorrow there will be positive cases.
"When you are in a team environment, you know it spreads like wildfire in the team.
"I just feel that this was deja vu and we are here 12 months after a really bad COVID outbreak at the same time... It's across the game at the moment. For me, it's a major reason behind performance tonight."
Hayes added there were 20 positive cases at Chelsea this time last year.
Chelsea, last year's Champions League runners-up, required a point to advance to the knockout stages but the defeat, coupled with Juventus' 4-0 victory over Servette, saw them knocked out on goal difference after finishing third in the table.
Wolfsburg, Juve and Chelsea all finished level on 11 points but it was the Germans, after Svenja Huth and Tabea Wassmuth scored two apiece in an impressive display at the AOK Stadium, who ended as group winners.
Pernille Harder had an early chance for the Blues as she burst into the penalty area and shot over but the English side, without Ann-Katrin Berger and Drew Spence after positive coronavirus tests, were soon on the back foot.
Wolfsburg played as if they had nothing to lose and captain Huth forced a save from Zecira Musovic before Lena Oberdorf shot narrowly wide. Felicitas Rauch also made Musovic save.
The opening goal came after 16 minutes. Musovic managed to parry a ball across the box by Shanice Van de Sanden but Huth snapped up the rebound.
The hosts doubled their lead seven minutes later as Wassmuth broke down the left and crossed for Huth to tuck in at the far post.
Chelsea tried to find a response and Sam Kerr hit the bar before Harder tested Almuth Schult.
Manager Emma Hayes made a change before the break and sent on Ji So-yun, who immediately forced another save from Schult.
Chelsea's hopes of getting back into the game suffered a blow early in the second half when skipper Magdalena Eriksson was forced off injured.
The visitors did not give up and threw players forward in search of goals but they were caught out on the hour as Huth teed up Wassmuth for Wolfsburg's third.
Aniek Nouwen hit the woodwork with a looping header for Chelsea but there was no way back and Wassmuth wrapped up the scoring with a ferocious strike after 78
Chelsea now host West Ham on Sunday in the WSL at 12.15pm. The draw for the knockout stages of the Women's Champions League will take place on December 20.