Kadeisha Buchanan

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes labelled the red card handed to Kadeisha Buchanan as a “shocking decision” after her side were knocked out of the Champions League by current holders Barcelona.

Despite taking a one-goal lead into the second leg after last week’s victory in Barcelona, Chelsea were pegged back early doors at Stamford Bridge on Saturday when a strike from Aitana Bonmati deflected past goalkeeper Hannah Hampton.

Chelsea appeared to be in the ascendancy before two yellow cards were shown to Buchanan in the space of five minutes, first for kicking the ball away and the second for what Hayes deemed a ‘soft’ challenge.

The protests were to little avail as Chelsea’s task went from difficult to almost impossible in the space of a few minutes.

With a little under 20 minutes to play, Ashley Lawrence was punished for a challenge on Bonmati in the box and Barca’s Fridolina Rolfo made no mistake from the penalty spot. Ultimately, it was their night and Chelsea were left wondering what could have been.

“Listen, they’re the best team in the world for a reason and they had a strong first-half,” Hayes admitted post-match. “In the second-half, I felt we were just getting on top. You could see the combination of the crowd and the players driving us and the players felt really confident.

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

Chelsea dug deep after the sending off and had plenty of opportunities to restore their aggregate lead. Melanie Leupolz and Erin Cuthbert both came close to scoring as huge opportunities were missed by Hayes’ side, while Sjoeke Nusken agonisingly saw an effort bounce back off the post.

Kadeisha BuchananKadeisha Buchanan

Buchanan was sent off in a major blow for Chelsea / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

In the final 15 minutes Hayes could only watch as her side struggled to get on the ball. A last-minute throw of the dice saw Millie Bright come on as a centre forward, but not even the Chelsea captain could produce a moment of magic to take it to extra-time.

Barca controlled the game comfortably in the closing stages, proving exactly why they’re regarded as one of the best teams in the world. According to Hayes, however, even they could appreciate their lives were made easier by the officiating on the night.

“Barcelona players said to us they knew the referee was helpful for them,” Hayes added during a sombre post-match press conference. “I didn’t think it was a foul [from Buchanan], let alone a yellow card.

“I was surprised when I saw her [the referee] selected. She’s famous for easy cards and I think that is probably the worst decision in UEFA Women’s Champions League history.

“You need everything to go your way. They get two yellow cards [given against Chelsea], a deflection and a penalty. Everything went their way and everything didn’t go our way tonight.”

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