Women's Champions League final: Chelsea players tell Roman Abramovich they 'will be back'

Chelsea players comfort each other after the game
Chelsea players consoled each other after the final whistle

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said her players told the club's owner Roman Abramovich that they "will be back" in the Women's Champions League final, after their heavy defeat by Barcelona.

The Blues went behind after 33 seconds and were 4-0 down inside 36 minutes in their first-ever European final.

Abramovich flew to Gothenburg to be at the game and came to see the players in the dressing room after the match.

"The girls were very quick to tell him that we will be back here," Hayes said.

"We'll work hard on the training pitch to make sure we do that. If I know this group well enough I know they mean those words and this is just another step in our journey.

"We are the second best team in Europe and that's a step in the right direction. There's still a lot of potential in this group."

Roman Abramovich
Chelsea were watched from the stands by owner Roman Abramovich, who had flown in to Gothenburg for the game

Chelsea's run to the final was the first time an English side had reached the competition's showpiece since Arsenal lifted the trophy in 2007 - when it was known as the Uefa Cup.

The Women's Super League winners had been chasing a quadruple but could finish the campaign with a domestic treble if they win the FA Cup, having also already lifted the League Cup.

"It's a massive learning curve but we're proud of the journey and what we've achieved," centre-back Millie Bright told BT Sport.

"There are loads of positives to take from this game, especially second-half where I think we showed our character and we did have chances but just didn't put them away.

"The message to the fans is: Thank you for your support, don't stop believing in us, we'll be back and next time we'll do better."

'Game was over before it began'

Barcelona celebrate while Ann Katrin-Berger looks dejected
Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger (right) conceded from all four of Barcelona's efforts on target, including an own goal and a penalty

Hayes said Chelsea's defeat by Barcelona should not diminish their achievements already this season.

And she urged her side to follow the example of their opponents, who became the first Spanish side to win the Women's Champions League two years after a 4-1 defeat by Lyon in the final.

"We're double winners so far, we've had an exceptional season," said Hayes. "The disappointment that will be felt in the dressing room is that the game was over before it began.

"The better team won the game and we need to close that gap against them. They had the pain of two years ago and it showed.

"Ann-Katrin Berger didn't have a save to make yet we were 4-0 down. They were extremely clinical.

"Congratulations to Barcelona, they are worthy winners as champions of Europe.

"I thought their experience counted, I thought they were exceptional in both boxes. It was one of those games when it felt like everything fell to them and the early goals took a lot out of the team."

However, Hayes believes her players, such as inexperienced duo Jess Carter and Niamh Charles, will be better for the experience and they should take heart from their second-half display.

"Some of the players haven't played in this arena before and it showed, but they'll improve with that experience," added Hayes.

"I know with the strength of depth we've got on the bench, the quality the team has displayed all year is unbelievable. This is a disappointment tonight, we're disappointed in the result but I thought we gave it everything second-half, at least we showed the character we've got."

'They cannot lose their fight and desire'

Chelsea players hold a team talk
An inquest was held by the Chelsea players on the pitch after they conceded a third goal in the final

Chelsea were on the wrong end of the biggest winning margin in a Women's Champions League final, and England and Everton midfielder Izzy Christiansen said their next steps are on a "knife-edge" after suffering a humbling defeat.

"The thing I think is most prominent about Chelsea is their ability to adapt into a moment," she told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"[But] their ability to adapt has just completely gone out of the window in that first half and that's why I'm so confused."

However, Christiansen believes Hayes' side can take heart from Barcelona's development since their final setback and go one better.

"They cannot lose their fight and desire that they've got to this stage with and they need to retain it," she said.

"That's what Barcelona did, back in 2019 they were on the receiving end of a runners' up medal and now look at them, they're lifting the trophy, so it's another two years onto the project perhaps."

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