ENGLAND international Rachel Williams almost inspired Chelsea Ladies to a dramatic comeback in the final of the International Women’s Club Championship in Tokyo only to fall just short as the Blues lost 4-2.
Despite having numerous chances of their own Chelsea found themselves trailing 3-0 to reigning Japanese league and cup holders INAC Kobe Lionessa with only ten minutes to go before Williams scored one and made one as the Blues almost pulled off the impossible to force the game in to extra time.
But it wasn’t to be and with Chelsea throwing caution to the wind INAC broke and Emi Nakajima found space in the penalty area to seal the Mobcast Cup for the Japanese outfit.
INAC broke the deadlock in the tenth minute as a precise passing move cut open the Chelsea defence and Nakajima’s cut back was tapped in to an empty net by Megumi Takase.
A minute later a swift counter attack from Chelsea almost led to an immediate equaliser as Eniola Aluko’s cross found Rachel Williams only for the England international’s shot to be blocked on the line after she had rounded the keeper.
INAC’s second goal arrived from the penalty spot as Beverly Goevel-Yanez stumbled in the box under pressure from Chelsea defenders Laura Bassett and Emma Wilhelmsson, with the American dusting herself down to send Blues keeper Marie Hourihan the wrong way.
The half ended with Chelsea on the front foot and they almost got their reward in the final minute only for Williams’ header from a Yuki Ogimi corner to come crashing back off the bar.
Chelsea started the second half positively and a precise through ball from Williams found Ogimi in space but the Japanese World Cup winner fired tamely at the INAC keeper in the 53rd minute.
The Tokyo-based side then had a chance to wrap things up as a long ball bounced kindly for Goevel-Yanez, only for the striker’s attempted chip to sail over.
With Chelsea desperate to get back in to the game it was end-to-end action with Blues full back Dani Buet drilling the ball agonisingly wide, while Hourihan ahd to be at her best to deny Kawasumi.
Chelsea should have pulled one back with 70 minutes on the clock as Williams once again found Ogimi, who this time rounded keeper Ayumi Kaihori only for the INAC defence to clear her goal-bound shot off the line.
And that miss proved costly moments later as INAC punished the Londoners with a goal of pure class as South Korean international Ji So-yun smashed home from the edge of the box after a patient passing move.
The Blues refused to throw in the towel however and with ten minutes left on the clock they were given a lifeline as Williams towered above the INAC defence to head home an Aluko corner.
And it was 3-2 in the 83rd minute as Hannah Blundell’s cross was flicked on by Williams and despite Ogimi’s effort being scrambled clear Blundell was on hand to follow up and tap the ball home.
But there was to be no dream comeback as the impressive Nakajima rounded off another neat move to ensure the trophy would remain in Japan.