Lucy Bronze said Lyon “never really got out of second gear” in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea and that their disappointment after a 2-1 win shows the mentality of champions.
“We’re disappointed we just won the game,” the full-back said. “That says a lot about the mentality of the team. We’re winners. People are going to put their bodies on the line and try their hardest, and even if 11 players aren’t having their best game we’ll still match any team. We’ll still give any team a good game but that’s what you know you’ll get playing for Lyon.
“If a couple of players had their best games of the season we would have won that game comfortably, that’s just the way this team is and that’s what it’s like to play with 11, 12,13 world-class players.”
Lyon’s victory came from a Magda Eriksson own goal and Amandine Henry’s header but Chelsea managed an away goal when Beth England, on for Fran Kirby, headed the ball to Erin Cuthbert, who scored with a first-time volley. “I think they deserved the goal,” Bronze said. “It would be stupid of us to say they didn’t deserve the goal. Could they potentially have come away with a draw? Yes. A win? For me, no.
“I think they pushed us at times but I think we were the better team and deserved the win. It was a Chelsea performance I knew they were capable of. I think they had one of the best games that I’ve seen them play this season and I think we played one of the worst games I’ve seen us play this season. You put those two together and obviously Chelsea are going to score the chances they get, that’s the type of team they are.”
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Asked to clarify what she meant when she described Lyon’s performance as weak, Bronze pointed to the 5-0 dismantling of title rivals PSG. “If you watch the game last week we dominated everything physically,” she said. “Every one of our passes was perfect. We stuck away our chances, we didn’t give away silly fouls or silly passes. [Against Chelsea] it was a tired performance.
“All over the pitch we had sloppy passes. This is a world-class team with the best players in the world, you don’t expect that to happen. Too many of us didn’t have our best game. But a Lyon team all firing, you would know, you would see it, it’s a team that can dominate any team.
“We weren’t quite at the races, it took us a long time to get into the game, we never really got out of second gear and we allowed Chelsea back in the game in the second half.”
Bronze was surprised by Chelsea’s strength up front: “From what I know of Chelsea, they’ve been quite defensive in recent games but they just went [with] Kirby, Bachmann, Ji, Cuthbert, Carney. All of them together, which is, for me, a rare sight at Chelsea. But as a supporter of football? I’m like: ‘Great, we’re in for a game’.
“We knew they were going to attack and they did that with all those players on the pitch. As much as you don’t want to see all those names on the team sheet you want to play against the best and that was a really strong Chelsea team to play against.”
Bronze expects a different Lyon at Kingsmeadow on Sunday: “We’re still in the stronger position. We go there and we score a couple of goals and it’s game over. We’ve seen that this year, even last season, where we’ve let teams in, in first games. We had a 2-1 lead against Barcelona and then we took it to the second game and we won the second game.
“It’s never going to be easy, it’s the Champions League, you play the best teams and it’s in our hands next week to play well, to take the game to them, like they did to us, and win it.”