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‘We were robbed’ – Hayes reacts to Chelsea’s UWCL semi-final defeat to Barcelona

‘We were robbed’ – Hayes reacts to Chelsea’s UWCL semi-final defeat to Barcelona

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes expressed her frustration at the controversial refereeing decisions which went against her side in their 2-0 defeat to FC Barcelona at Stamford Bridge last night.

The Blues exited this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League at the semi-final stage after falling to a 2-1 aggregate defeat to the reigning European champions.

When speaking in the post-match press conference, Hayes expressed her frustration towards the officials and said that she felt a sense of being robbed. She also praised her team for not giving up despite being down to 10 players for a significant portion of the second half. 

“They had a strong first half, the deflected goal puts them in a good position,” Hayes said. “In the second half, I felt we were just coming on top and you could see the combination of the crowd and the players were driving us, they felt really confident.

“When you get such a shocking refereeing decision, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s hard enough when you’ve got 11 but when you’ve got 10, it’s virtually impossible.

“Even the Barcelona players said the referee was helpful to them. I didn’t think it was a foul, let alone a yellow card.

“For us, we didn’t feel we got the opportunity to lose it, that was taken away.”

The award of the penalty which led to Fridolina Rolfö doubling the visitors’ lead was also controversial. Hayes was equally as disappointed that the spot kick was given.

She said “I thought it was equally soft but she’s an amazing player [Aitana] Bonmatí, because Ashley [Lawrence] is on the outside of her, she’s clever. Bonmatí, it’s clever, she leaves her leg there.”

Commenting on the selection of referee Iuliana Demetrescu for the match, Hayes admitted that she had concerns beforehand.

“I was surprised when I saw her selected,” The Blues boss said. “She’s famous for easy cards. That [red card] was probably the worst decision in UEFA Women’s Champions League history.

“There’s nothing you can do when it’s such a terrible decision.”

Reflecting on how her players will be feeling after the match, Hayes said that they will also be feeling hard done by after being in a great position to progress.

She said “I’m gutted for them, we were robbed. I genuinely believe we were on top of the game; we’d just hit the post, we could feel the momentum going in that direction but we didn’t get the chance to experience that.

“Yes, we lost Mayra Ramírez after training, that didn’t help, but you need everything to go your way; two yellow cards, a deflection and a penalty, everything went their way.”

Despite the difficult nature of the defeat, Hayes paid tribute to the crowd for their support. An attendance of 39,398 was recorded, a new record for the women’s side at Stamford Bridge. 

“The crowd were fantastic, they really were,” Hayes said. “They drove the team on, particularly in the second half I could feel their energy and they were really pushing us. I could feel that momentum changing with their help.

“I hope the club builds on it and makes sure they return in the future because there’s a lot of people that put a lot of effort into today. For me, the most important thing is that they keep coming back and hopefully, we’ll keep being in these positions in the future.”

Chelsea are back in action on Wednesday evening when they travel to Liverpool for a Barclays Women’s Super League fixture.