Chelsea’s former striker Pernille Harder equalized against her old team in stoppage time after a catalog of mistakes threatened to jeopardize the start of the women’s Champions League.
Emma Hayes’ side seemed to be the architects of their own downfall, with three defensive mistakes giving the guests the advantage only to save a 3-3 draw in the second minute of stoppage time.
It was far from the ideal start to the Champions League group stage the Londoners wanted after losing 4-0 in the final to Barcelona in May, but their problems were all self-made.
After an early lead by Sam Kerr, a few undecided defenders, Wolfsburg strikers Tabea Wassmuth and Jill Roord scored goals.
Bethany England gave Chelsea 39 minutes to save something with a clever volley but they left it late despite being two points behind Group A leaders Juventus after the draw.
The hosts, who left Fran Kirby on the bench after a cold, paid as much for their early dominance as they did for their mistakes.
After Ji So-yun’s free kick over the wall, which forced Almuth Schult to make a flat save on the post, the hosts took the lead with a masterfully executed goal.
Ji’s ball over the top took Kerr out, and she demonstrated the awareness and control that have made her the Women’s Super League top scorer this season by praising the advancing goalkeeper with her first touch.
The traffic continued in one direction until a defensive disaster gave the Wolfsburgers the chance to get back into the game, which they used in contrast to their opponents.
A hopeful clearing up in defense caused confusion between Ann-Katrin Berger and her captain Magda Eriksson and the hesitation of both did not allow the ball, which Wassmuth got rolling with an open goal for her shot.
After 33 minutes, there was further self-damage due to another misjudgment by Berger.
The goalkeeper tried to play a short kick on Melanie Leupolz, who ran back towards her own penalty area border, but under pressure from Lena Oberdorf she never got possession and the ball fell to Roord, who pocketed a shot in the corner of 16 Meter.
Chelsea coach Hayes’ team talk at halftime went out the window just three minutes after the restart when another mistake led to a Wolfsburg goal.
Under pressure from Wassmuth, Jess Carter left a back pass miserably short, but even then the Wolfsburg had a lot to do.
However, she clinically defeated Berger with a twisty left-hand shot into the far post from an acute angle.
Chelsea quickly pulled one back with England’s clever volley after a goal-mouth scramble on a corner, but it was their last meaningful intervention when Kirby replaced her shortly after the hour.
Only in the last 10 minutes did the home side really put pressure on, but after Erin Cuthbert’s best scoring chance, Harder used a Wolfsburg mistake in the penalty area to shoot.