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Hayes in awe as Nusken inspires Blues cruise
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Matthew Hill
Emma Hayes' Chelsea made light work of Ajax
Emma Hayes' Chelsea made light work of Ajax

Emma Hayes hailed two-goal hero Sjoeke Nusken after Chelsea took command of their Women's Champions League quarter-final with a 3-0 first-leg win over Ajax.

Lauren James opened the scoring inside 20 minutes with a composed finish that was initially flagged offside before VAR intervened.

Then it was all about the versatile Nusken, who calmly converted crosses from Guro Reiten and Cat Macario to earn the Blues an emphatic success in Amsterdam.

A midfielder by trade, the German international has now netted consecutive braces playing up front and also filled in at centre-back in a 1-0 success at Everton earlier this month.

Hayes, 47, said: "You see she not only belongs on the big stage but she's someone, no matter where she plays, who's going to be equally good.

"She's a box player, no question. She wants to be there and the third goal epitomised her desire, her positioning and quality.

Sjoeke Nusken scored twice for Chelsea in Amsterdam
Sjoeke Nusken scored twice for Chelsea in Amsterdam

"She plays as a No8, she's equally good. She plays as centre-half, she's just as good. In fact, I might give her a game in goal next week just to test it out."

The departing Blues boss, 47, has yet to get her hands on the Champions League, having come closest when losing the 2020-21 final to Barcelona.

It was the Blaugrana who once again ended her side's hopes last term in the semi-finals and a repeat encounter now looks firmly on the cards.

Barca will be strong favourites to overcome Norwegian outfit Brann but Hayes has warned her side not to look beyond their second leg at Stamford Bridge next Wednesday.

She added: "This game is only at half-time.

"Often when you go away, you win games like this, the brain gets a little bit relaxed, you go home and you see an opposite performance.

"I think we need to heed the warning and share that experience with the players ahead of next week."

Before welcoming Ajax to West London, Chelsea face a must-win Women's Super League trip to West Ham on Sunday afternoon.


Chelsea FC WomenWomen’s Champions League
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