Sam Kerr’s goal in the 67th minute was enough to secure a vital win which leaves them top of Group A, with just a point required from their final two fixtures against Juventus and Wolfsburg to secure their place in the quarter-finals.
This was not the vintage, ruthless and clinical Chelsea we saw in Geneva last week. The Blues thrashed their opponents 7-0 in the reverse fixture and were 6-0 up at half-time.
But Emma Hayes had said before kick-off she was expecting a different game at Kingsmeadow and their opponents were much improved.
Sam Kerr’s second half finish was the difference on Thursday as Chelsea edged past Servette
The Australian striker came up with the decisive moment midway through the second half
Kerr’s goal means Chelsea have taken a step closer to the Champions League quarter-finals
Natalia Padilla-Bidas gave Chelsea an early scare when she got in behind Millie Bright but her shot across goal flew wide of the left post.
Fran Kirby went close at the other end in the ninth minute when she was played in by Ji So-Yun, but her close-range effort was saved by the legs of Servette goalkeeper Ines Pereira.
For all their possession, that was the closest the Blues came to opening the scoring in the first half. Kirby was the brightest player in the opening 45 minutes and she looked the most likely to create something as the game restarted.
It had been frustrating for Ker and her team-mates at Kingsmeadow up until the breakthrough
Servette almost had every player behind the ball and they successfully frustrated the Blues
Chelsea (4-3-3): Musovic, Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson (Cuthbert 69), Ingle (Leupolz 68), Ji, Charles, Kirby (James 85), Kerr (Reiten 85), England (Fleming 68)
Subs not used: Telford, Berger, Carter, Spence, Fox
Goals: Kerr 67
Manager: Emma Hayes
Servette (4-2-3-1): Pereira, Soulard, Felber, Spalti, Mendes, Maendly (Redondo 90+1), Tufo (Tamplin 90+2), Padilla-Bidas (Bourma 70), Lagonia, Nakkach, Boho (Fleury 80)
Subs not used: Droz, Grivaz
Sent off: Soulard
Manager: Eric Severac
Referee: Hristiyana Guteva
The forward forced Pereira into a save at her near post before Ji had an effort deflected wide. Jonna Anderson then went close as she tried to connect with England’s cross but Elodie Nakkach made a vital block.
Servette didn’t manage a shot on target in the reverse fixture but they twice went close to taking an unlikely lead just past the hour mark.
First, Monica Mendes back-heeled an effort towards goal which just Zecira Musovic managed to hold. Jade Boho then tested Musovic with another shot from the box.
But the visitors lack of quality was telling and moments later Kerr showed why it will be the Blues who will eventually progress to the quarter-finals.
Kirby found space on the right and played a well-time ball into the feet of the Australian, who went past Nathalia Spalti before finishing into the bottom left corner.
Servette were reduced to ten in the 82nd minute when Amandine Soulard was sent off for a second yellow card after a late tackle on Niamh Charles. In truth, she could have gone 10 minutes earlier when she’d dragged back Kerr, who looked to be racing through on goal.
While Kerr’s goal was the most important contribution of the night, another significant moment came in the 85th minute when summer signing Lauren James came on to make her debut, with brother Reece watching on in the stands.
Fans have been eager to see the forward since she made the move from Manchester United but Hayes has been careful not to rush her into the team after suffering several injuries last season.
She had the chance to make it the perfect debut when she was picked out in the box by Erin Cuthbert but her shot flew over the bar.
Servette were later reduced to 10 players but Chelsea were unable to build upon their lead