Pernille Harder scored against her former club as Chelsea secured a 2-1 advantage against Wolfsburg in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Wolfsburg were left to rue missed chances as Chelsea took a 55th-minute lead through clever link-up play between Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr, with the Australian scoring.
Harder then capitalised on a defensive lapse to slot the ball into the bottom corner.
However, Dominique Janssen grabbed Wolfsburg an important away goal from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining.
Chelsea: Berger (8), Bright (6), Ingle (6), Andersson (7), Eriksson (7), Charles (7), Leupolz (6), Ji (6), Kirby (7), Kerr (7), Harder (7).
Subs: Reiten (6), Cuthbert (6).
Wolfsburg: Kiedrzynek (6), Hendrich (6), Doorsoun (6), Oberdorf (7), Janssen (6), Huth (7), Popp (7), Rauch (6), Rolfo (7), Engen (6), Pajor (7).
Subs: Jakabfi (6), Blomqvist (6).
Player of the match: Ann-Katrin Berger.
Harder helps Chelsea to first-leg win
The Germans reached the final last year and have history with Emma Hayes’ side, having knocked Chelsea out of the competition in three successive seasons from 2015-16 onwards, but the Blues go into the second leg with a narrow advantage.
Wolfsburg looked to get on the front foot from kick-off and had the ball in the back of the net, but it went in off the hand of Alexandra Popp, who was shown a yellow card.
Chelsea goalkeeper Ann Katrin-Berger kept the scores level going into the second half, first with a save from Firdolina Rolfo, before the ball fell to Ewa Pajor, whose attempted overhead-kick was cleared off the line by Jonna Andersson.
Wolfsburg started the second half in the same manner as they finished the first, with Pajor heading a Svenja Huth cross goalwards, only for it to rebound off the woodwork.
Chelsea took the lead against the run of play through Kerr, with the Australian rounding the goalkeeper before firing home from a tight angle after being found by the in-form Kirby.
Pernille Harder started against her former side for Chelsea, while Sophie Ingle came in for Erin Cuthbert in midfield. It was the same front three and back five that overcame Everton in Chelsea’s last WSL encounter.
Berger made a flying save to keep her side ahead, with a close-range reaction stop to tip Rolfo’s volley over the crossbar.
Harder doubled Chelsea’s advantage against the club she left for a record fee in the summer, capitalising on a defensive mistake when trying to play it out from the back.
Wolfsburg pulled one back from the penalty spot following a rash challenge from captain Magda Eriksson on Huth, for what could prove to be a vital away goal.
Janssen stepped up and fired the ball into the top corner, giving Berger no chance to add to her saved penalty tally for the tournament. The German saved three against Atletico Madrid across two legs in the previous round.
Berger suffered an injury in the closing moments and had to receive treatment, but she was able to continue.
Analysis: ‘Chelsea dig in to get job done’
Former Liverpool Women’s manager Vicky Jepson speaking on Sky Sports News:
“Chelsea were very lucky to go in goalless at half-time but then they were very good putting their bodies on the line. Wolfsburg were on the front foot early in the second half but that Chelsea opener against the run of play swung the momentum back in their favour.
“Their confidence was back, and they looked a different team and got that second goal. Wolfsburg pulled one back from the penalty spot and Chelsea had to hang on right to the finish, but credit to them for getting the job done.”
Chelsea are at home to Aston Villa in the Women’s Super League on Sunday at 2.30pm. They meet Wolfsburg again in the Champions League quarter-final second leg next Wednesday back in Budapest.