01 March 2020

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes praises England and Berger and says League Cup victory shows them to be 'a great team'

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has singled out forward Beth England and keeper Ann-Katrin Berger as they key players in their League Cup final victory over Arsenal.

England struck in injury-time to give the Blues a thrilling 2-1 win and with it their first ever Continental Cup trophy.

And Hayes, who has also led Chelsea to an unbeaten run in the Women's Super League, believes their ability to grind out a result despite not playing to their full potential shows just how good her side are.

She said: "This is the third time we’ve played Arsenal this season and the previous two we were extremely dominant in. No one in our camp thought this would be a dominant Chelsea performance – far from it. To win the game after they out-possessed us, they dominated, shows what a great team we really are.

"It’s just about getting one more goal than the opponent. I talked earlier in the season about this team not being clinical. Well, we’re clinical now.

"People don’t remember performances in finals, they remember results. They won’t be saying in three years’ time, 'Remember that dominant Arsenal performance?', they’ll just say Chelsea won. It’s about producing winning football and results."

Chelsea keeper Ann-Katrin Berger made a number of superb stops to keep the Gunners at bay and ultimately give Hayes' team the opportunity to go on and win the game.

And while England will undoubtedly grab the headlines, the Blues boss says people should not forget the vital part Berger played in their victory.

"She (Berger) was unbelievable, she really was," she added. "I didn’t realise this before, but I have a lot of players who hadn’t won anything before and I think Ann was one of them.

"She finished second a lot and I’ve got a lot of players who have been in that position in their career. So it mattered. For Ann – came to the club to win trophies. Sam Kerr – came to the club to win trophies.

"We always talk about attacking being the most dominant feature of a football match, instead of saying why doesn’t Chelsea deserve to win the game on the basis of an outstanding goalkeeping performance. It’s not often we have to defend like that and still come through."

England's late goal, which was her 19th of the season in 22 games, proved the decisive moment in a match that otherwise looked to be swinging Arsenal's way.

She is a player who has developed under Hayes since joining the club in 2016 and recently earned a starting birth in the England set-up.

And the Chelsea manager admits she sees England as one of her biggest success stories since taking charge of the team in 2012.

She said: "With Beth, I love the story. She had to earn it. There was no way I was going to give it to her easily and she’ll tell you that!

"There’s nothing more joyful than when a player, who you don’t really know if they’re going to cut it at the top level, gets their head down and puts everything into their career. The talent was always there, but now you’re starting to see the fruit of hard work and perseverance.

"I really think England have got a player who can add something to them going to the next stage. I was saying during the week she seems to be scoring the hardest goals and missing the easiest ones, but she can say the opposite to me today. That’s probably the easiest finish she’ll ever have. But she’s a credit to herself and her family."

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