Emma Hayes with the FA Cup trophy in 2015

Emma Hayes: Chelsea manager’s most significant WSL games

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Emma Hayes has enjoyed a hugely successful managerial career at Chelsea but her time in the Women’s Super League will come to an end when the season wraps up in May.

Hayes has picked up 13 major trophies during her time with the club and led Chelsea to the Women’s Champions League final for the first time in their history.

There have been a number of standout games during her 11-year tenure – BBC Sport selects five of the biggest and discusses the impact they had.

Chelsea 1-0 Notts County – 2015

Emma Hayes with the FA Cup trophy in 2015Emma Hayes’ first trophy with Chelsea was the 2015 Women’s FA Cup

The first trophy is often the sweetest.

Hayes joined Chelsea in 2012 but took a few years to rebuild the squad before winning her first piece of silverware.

It eventually arrived in 2015 when one of her most successful signings – Ji So-Yun – scored the winning goal in the 2015 FA Cup final against Notts County.

It was significant to Hayes as her first trophy, but it was also Chelsea’s first piece of silverware and it was the first Women’s FA Cup to be held at Wembley Stadium.

Chelsea had come into the final off the back of two consecutive league defeats but as we have come to learn, they don’t often lose under Hayes when silverware is at stake.

  • Match report

Chelsea 4-1 Bayern Munich (agg 5-3) – 2021

Emma Hayes celebrates after reaching the 2021 Women's Champions League finalChelsea have never won the Women’s Champions League but reached the final in 2021

Hayes enjoyed a number of successful moments earlier in her career, but as her Chelsea dynasty developed winning games became more challenging.

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Chelsea’s quest to win a first Women’s Champions League title goes on, but Hayes led the club to the final for the first time in 2021 when they saw off Bayern Munich in dramatic fashion in the semi-final.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, late goals by superstars Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby gave Chelsea a 4-1 win at home in the second leg to seal their place in the final.

They would go on to lose heavily 4-0 to Barcelona but this victory over Bayern Munich ensured an English club competed for the trophy for the first time in 14 years and Hayes was in tears at the final whistle.

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Chelsea 3-0 Tottenham – 2022

Emma Hayes and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd after beating Tottenham in 2022Emma Hayes and summer signing Johanna Rytting Kaneryd celebrate on the pitch after beating Tottenham

Chelsea have had a number of significant games against London neighbours Tottenham, including their first WSL game at Stamford Bridge back in 2019.

But this was a memorable game for Hayes because it was her first since returning from emergency hysterectomy surgery and the victory eventually played its part in a fourth successive WSL title.

Hayes had been away for almost two months and said being pitchside was “like being back with family” as goals from Sam Kerr, Erin Cuthbert and Guro Reiten gave Chelsea a comfortable 3-0 win.

It was also played in front of 38,300 fans at Stamford Bridge – a record home crowd for Chelsea women.

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Chelsea 1-2 (agg 2-2) Lyon – 2023

Emma Hayes celebrates victory over LyonBoth Chelsea and rivals Arsenal reached the semi-finals of the Women’s Champions League in 2023

The Women’s Champions League is a competition close to Hayes’ heart and it is the trophy she has craved most during her tenure.

That relentless desire to have success in Europe has led to some memorable matches but last season’s quarter-final victory over holders Lyon was up there with one of Chelsea’s greatest results.

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It was an extraordinary two-legged tie which ended in a dramatic penalty shootout – Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger made two crucial saves to deny Lindsey Horan and Wendie Renard.

The fact it was played at Stamford Bridge and technology used by the video assistant referee (VAR) played its part in awarding Chelsea a penalty in the final seconds of extra time was also a demonstration of how far the women’s game had come during Hayes’ time at the club.

It was just the second time in 14 quarter-final appearances that eight-time champions Lyon failed to progress and Chelsea’s victory meant there were two English clubs in the last four for the first time in five years as they joined Arsenal in the semi-finals.

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Reading 0-3 Chelsea (2023)

Emma Hayes and her son HarryEmma Hayes and her son Harry celebrated together with Chelsea’s fans after winning a fourth successive WSL title

This match was significant because of the rewards enjoyed afterwards.

Chelsea’s victory at Reading on the final day of last season ensured they wrapped up a fourth successive WSL title, consigning the home side to relegation in the process.

To win four league titles in a row is a phenomenal achievement and Hayes was more reflective than usual as she processed what her staff and players had done.

Hayes described it as “the hardest one yet” as the win capped off a season in which she underwent surgery, continued to juggle a demanding work-life balance – caring for her young son Harry – and had to fend off the challenges posed by improving rivals.

She was emotional on the pitch as she celebrated Chelsea’s achievement with Harry, had photos with her son and the trophy in front of supporters, and said farewell to influential club captain Magdalena Eriksson and striker Harder.

Hayes will hope to enjoy one final title success before she leaves Chelsea in the summer, but until then this one was perhaps her most rewarding trophy to date.

  • Match report