Chelsea hand Barcelona first home defeat in five years in WCL semis


Chelsea Women stunned Barcelona Women in their Champions League semi-final first leg, with a 1-0 win inflicting a first home defeat in five years on the Spanish side.

Barca had gone unbeaten on home soil since a 3-2 defeat to Sporting de Huelva in February 2019, but came unstuck against a resilient Chelsea side who followed their game plan to perfection.

Emma Hayes’ team held their nerve as their Spanish hosts dominated possession from start to finish, and after a shaky opening they grew into the game themselves and offered a threat on the break in both halves.

It was from one such quick counter they scored the goal to give them a first-leg advantage, as Erin Cuthbert curled past Cata Coll after a smart one-two with Melanie Leupolz on the edge of the box.

Erin Cuthbert gives Chelsea the lead
Image:
Cuthbert gave Chelsea the lead with a fine strike shortly before half-time

Chelsea’s back three, marshalled by the colossal performance of Jess Carter, remained stoic throughout and were not seriously threatened in open play until Salma Paralluelo fired wide in the dying minutes from Caroline Graham Hansen’s excellent cross, before Alexia Putellas did likewise with the last kick of the game.

The hosts were initially awarded a penalty midway through the second period for a handball by Kadeisha Buchanan, but a VAR review showed Paralluelo, who was stood just behind the Chelsea defender, was offside and interfering with play.

That reprieve and those two late misses gave Chelsea a stunning lead to take back to Stamford Bridge next Saturday, with the hope of finally beating Spain’s best side within their grasp.

Player ratings:

Barcelona: Coll (6), Batlle (5), Paredes (5), Engen (6), Rolfo (6), Bonmati (6), Walsh (5), Guijarro (6), Graham Hansen (7), Paralluelo (5), Caldentey (5).

Subs used: Putellas (6), Bronze (6), Lopez (6).

Chelsea: Hampton (7), Carter (9), Buchanan (7), Charles (8), Kaneryd (7), Cuthbert (8), Leupolz (8), Nusken (7), Lawrence (8), James (7), Ramirez (8).

Subs used: Macario (6), Reiten (n/a).

Player of the match: Jess Carter.

How Chelsea made history against Spanish giants

Chelsea have had their European dreams dashed by Barcelona in two of the last three seasons, bowing out to the Spanish side in 2023 but more painfully losing 4-0 in the 2021 final.

This was Hayes’ final shot at revenge in the Chelsea boss’ last season in charge, but their hosts flew out of the traps and suffocated her side from the first moment.

The Blues looked shellshocked but found their way into the game as their defences held, and visibly grew in confidence once Melanie Leupolz fired narrowly wide following a swift counter.

Chelsea looked the more likely to score from that point, with their back three keeping Paralluelo and Graham Hansen at bay with a number of important interventions.

The priceless goal came five minutes before the break, when Cuthbert played a one-two with Leupolz from Mayra Ramirez’s ball inside before curling a fine shot past Coll.

Barcelona had not even trailed at home all season and appeared stunned, and did little to improve in the opening moments of the second period until they were briefly handed a huge lifeline.

Referee Stephanie Frappart reviews the penalty decision before ruling it out
Image:
Referee Stephanie Frappart reviewed the penalty decision before ruling it out

Patricia Guijarro’s 25-yard effort threatened danger and struck Buchanan’s outstretched arm, with Stephanie Frappart immediately pointing to the spot. A long VAR check appeared superfluous until it showed Paralluelo, who Buchanan was marking, was just offside and deemed interfering with play after Frappart visited the review monitor.

Chelsea could have had a penalty of their own after Ramirez appeared to be floored by Irene Paredes but VAR declined to intervene this time, before substitute Catarina Macario shrugged off Guijarro, who had moved to centre-back, before blazing over.

Barcelona continued to toil without testing Hannah Hampton, but should have drawn level late on when Graham Hansen’s perfect cross was turned wide of the near post by Paralluelo from close range.

But that wasn’t the end of Barca’s wastefulness. With the very last kick off the game, a free-kick was turned back across goal for substitute Putellas, who few could believe missed the target altogether with the goal at her mercy.

Hayes: It’s only half-time – we should’ve had a second!

Emma Hayes

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes told DAZN Sport:

“It’s just half-time. Nobody should get carried away with that and to be honest I’m disappointed we didn’t get the second goal. It’s a difficult place to come, they carried out the game plan I asked them to do so from that perspective I’m happy.

“A lot of teams come here and go 1-0 or 2-0 down early on and you have to ride that. They have unbelievable players that are world class in everything they do but for the most part we limited them.

On the overturned penalty: “For the first time ever we’ve had a VAR decision that’s gone in our favour. You do need a little bit of luck. She is offside and she’s interfering. That’s the rules.”

Lyon comeback stuns Paris Saint-Germain

Lyon pulled off a stunning late comeback to snatch a 3-2 win at home to Paris Saint-Germain in their all-French Women’s Champions League semi-final, with all three Lyon goals coming in the last 10 minutes.

Lyon, whose eight Champions League titles makes them the most successful club in the competition’s history, started well and exerted plenty of pressure, but PSG soaked it up comfortably, before hitting them with a pair of sucker punches.

Sonia Bompastor won the Champions League with Lyon during her playing career
Image:
Lyon are eight-time Champions League winners

PSG striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto broke the deadlock in the 44th minute, striking a low drive into the net despite losing her balance.

Three minutes into the second half Katoto struck again. Played onside by Selma Bacha, Katoto latched on to a blocked shot to double her side’s lead.

That goal provoked a strong response from Lyon but it took until the 80th minute for them to pull a goal back, Kadidiatou Diani toe-poking the ball into the bottom corner to set up a frenetic finish.

Five minutes later Lyon were level as Melchie Dumornay curled a sensational effort into the top corner, and a minute later substitute Amel Majri grabbed the winner with a superb turn and shot.

What’s next for Chelsea?

Chelsea are back in action when hosting Barcelona in the second leg of their semi-final tie at Stamford Bridge on April 27; kick-off 5.30pm.

Ad content | Stream Sky Sports on NOW

NOW PROMO APRIL 2024

Stream Sky Sports live with no contract on a Month or Day membership on NOW. Instant access to live action from the Premier League, EFL, F1, England Cricket and so much more.



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top