Mayra Ramirez announced herself to English football with a brilliant goal that helped Chelsea into the quarter finals of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.
It had looked as if the game was destined for extra time and potentially penalties as Crystal Palace threatened to cause a major shock in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
But in the 81st minute, the Columbian striker latched onto a cross from Ashley Lawrence, flicking the ball exquisitely past Palace goalkeeper Demi Lambourne.
About the goal, Chelsea manager Hayes said: “What a goal it was. I’m so happy for her [Ramirez], it takes the pressure off.
“She’s got everything in her locker… she’s still trying to settle in and learn our way of playing.”
Chelsea signed Ramirez from Levante on a four-and-a-half year deal in January.
The win keeps The Blues’ quadruple hopes alive, and they are now just two games away from reaching an eighth FA Cup final in the last 13 seasons.
Hayes did not want to put the spotlight on the idea of the quadruple though, saying: “I’m not going to answer on that.”
However, Chelsea struggled to match the intensity that they have maintained for much of this season, and they failed to register a single shot on target in the first half.
Fran Kirby’s early half-volley that landed on the roof of the net, and a wayward Mayra Ramirez header was all that Chelsea could manufacture until additional time at the end of the first half.
Just before the half-time whistle, Johanna Rytting-Kaneryd latched onto a pass from Erin Cuthbert in the penalty area, but after she had rounded the keeper she could only find the side netting with her shot.
Ramirez looked the most likely to break the deadlock in the second half. In the 63rd minute her shot inside the penalty area was well saved by Crystal Palace keeper Demi Lambourne.
She got even closer ten minutes later as she struck the crossbar from point blank range but it was an opportunity that should have been converted.
Her persistence was rewarded though, with her late goal finally breaking the resoluteness of Laura Kaminski’s stubborn side.
Hayes was full of praise for the championship team after the match, and said: “It was a cup game in every way shape or form…there was no space between the lines, I can totally see why they were tipped for promotion.
“They gave us a tougher game than some WSL teams in terms of being defensive and organised.”
This was Chelsea’s fourth match in the last 12 days but captain Niamh Charles refused to put what was at times a frustrating afternoon down to fatigue.
“I don’t think it’s fatigue at all, I think Emma’s rotated the side really well and we’re fit enough and that’s definitely something we pride ourselves off.
“If the game would have gone to extra time we’d have been ready for it.”
The draw for the quarter-final will be made on Monday evening live on The One Show on BBC1.