Chelsea Women's manager Emma Hayes has dedicated Sunday's Conti Cup success to defender Maren Mjelde, who was stretchered off with what looked like a serious knee injury during the 6-0 victory over Bristol City.
Late in the second half, Mjelde went in for a seemingly innocuous challenge with Bristol City's Aimee Palmer but was quickly seen writhing and screaming in pain. The Norway international needed to be given oxygen before being carried off on a stretcher.
It was an ugly end to an otherwise outstanding afternoon for Chelsea, who successfully retained the trophy they won in 2019/20, and Hayes dedicated the victory to Mjelde.
"It’s a bittersweet moment," said Hayes (via football.london). "Maren’s a huge person in our dressing room. She’s the mother hen, the person that everybody looks up to.
"I’m devastated. I hope she’s OK. I know it’s a bad one, but that win is for her today."
Norway national team manager Martin Sjogren later told NTB (via Adresseavisen) that initial scans on Mjelde's leg did not show any bone fracture, but the defender will undergo an MRI scan on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.
Mjelde has been a key part of Hayes' side this season, missing just one WSL match thus far, and she recently brought out her goalscoring expertise to bag two crucial penalties to steer Chelsea to the Champions League quarter-finals at Atletico Madrid's expense.
Losing her for an extended period of time would be a huge blow to Hayes, whose side are still on the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple.
"Emma put up on the tactics board today how many trophies we could win and this was one of them," said goalscorer Sam Kerr.
"We’re not stopping here, we’ll enjoy it tonight but tomorrow we’ll look back to the league. For us, it’s about winning everything we can and we’re not going to stop until the last game of the season. Hopefully we can pick up as many trophies as we can."