Lauren James proved she still has what it takes to be a Chelsea star with an impressive performance against Lyon in the Women’s International Champions Cup.
The English youngster joined the Blues from Manchester United last year but featured just six times in the Women’s Super League.
However, Emma Hayes awarded James a start against Lyon on Wednesday night and the 20-year-old repaid her manager’s faith with a clinical finish early in the second half.
After receiving the ball from Sam Kerr, James cut inside on her left foot and bent an inch-perfect strike into the top left corner.
It was the sort of goal that fans had long been waiting to see from the winger and that delighted the entire Chelsea squad.
Hayes is caught on camera clapping, while James is mobbed by her teammates.
Check out the goal below.
And there’s Lauren James 🔥— Women's International Champions Cup (@iccwomen) August 18, 2022
WHAT A GOAL ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/Mlwi8LwPqF
Lyon eventually won the match on penalties, after two late goals from Lindsey Horan and Signe Bruun cancelled out the strikes from Kerr and James.
What did fans think?
Understandably, Chelsea fans were ecstatic for James. Some praised her outstanding control and ability to use both feet, while others compared her to her brother Reece, who also plays for Chelsea and scored against Tottenham last week.
Lauren James with the worldie! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/8BekFnHe2O— London Is Blue Podcast ⭐️⭐️ (@LondonBluePod) August 18, 2022
“I just hope Lauren James doesn’t sustain [an] injury this season, she’ll definitely ball,” said one fan. “I love her movement and awareness, she uses both feet effectively too, what a player!”
Meanwhile, another stated: “Lauren James’ close control reminds me of Eden Hazard.”
Lauren James’ close control reminds me of Eden Hazard. 😮💨 #CFCW— Ishan Shah (@ishan04shah) August 18, 2022
Hazard made more than 350 appearances for Chelsea and was renowned for his pace and dribbling skills while at the club.
As mentioned, there were also multiple posts praising Lauren and Reece.
“Like brother. Like sister. What a goal.” stated one user.
“Reece James and Lauren James scoring bangers for @ChelseaFC,” said another.
Will James finally make her mark?
James has long been considered one of the hottest prospects in English women’s football.
While at Manchester United, James scored a number of vital goals, including the first for United in the WSL and the first by a woman at Old Trafford.
Yet, the youngster suffered with injuries after first joining Chelsea and struggled to make her mark on a team boasting the likes of Pernille Harder, Fran Kirby and Kerr.
Hayes made no secret of the fact she was managing the former United star, stating back in March: “I’ve made no secret of the time we’ve taken to get Lauren [James] in that place.
“She’s 100 per cent fit, but she doesn’t have the match minutes and doesn’t have a pre-season behind her.”
Now, however, with James excelling in pre-season and more match fitness under her belt, Hayes may decide to give the forward more minutes at the start of the season.