Lyon stun Barcelona with first-half blitz to reclaim Women's Champions League

·4 min read
Lyon stun Barcelona with first-half blitz to reclaim Women's Champions League - AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Lyon stun Barcelona with first-half blitz to reclaim Women's Champions League - AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Barcelona 1 Lyon 3

Off the pitch this was a Women's Champions League final like none before it, as swathes of Barcelona fans flocked to Turin and created a mesmeric atmosphere for what would turn into a classic final.

On the pitch, the end result had an air of familiarity, as Lyon reasserted themselves as European champions with a record-extending eighth Women's Champions League title.

The French side stunned the Catalans, who had arrived as favourites after winning a staggering 30 out of 30 league matches this season, scoring 159 goals - and buoyed by their two record-breaking crowds in excess of 91,000 at the Nou Camp for their quarter-final and semi-final victories - but were rocked by three first-half Lyon goals.

The match as a contest certainly did not disappoint. The football both teams served up was, at times, spellbinding, unrelenting in its full-throttle pace, full of attacking intent and completely defying the sweltering heat, with temperatures reaching 32C just a few hours before kick-off. The noise from the stands, at the home of Juventus, was equally impressive.

The contrast to last year’s final, played in near silence under Covid-19 curfew conditions in Gothenburg, Sweden, with no supporters allowed inside the ground to see Barcelona race to a 4-0 victory over Chelsea, was total.

In fact this atmosphere was unlike any previous Women’s Champions League final; deafening, partisan and almost tribal. Neutral locals had typically made up the majority of attendees for previous finals - but not in 2022.

The Barcelona fans packed out the sun-trapped city-centre bars all day, chanting in the streets, and then greeting the arrival of their team bus at the stadium with smoke bombs, before hissing at the Lyon bus. They are scenes which may be commonplace for major men’s finals but were almost unimaginable in the women’s game before this season.

But their team were shell-shocked when France midfielder Amandine Henry won the ball off Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas and powered a rip-roaring strike from range perfectly into the far corner with one of the goals of the season.

Lyon head coach Sonia Bompastor - the first female manager to win this competition in 13 years - said: "It was a beautiful goal, the goal of her life - it also gave us the [upper] hand over Barcelona because they are not used to conceding. It forced them to have to defend with a high block."

Barcelona manager Jonatan Giraldez admitted: "The first goal, an astonishing goal, made us a bit confused, we were a bit out of place."

Indeed they were, as Lyon, now frequently breaking on the counter, doubled the lead with a trademark header from Norway icon Ada Hegerberg, before sloppy defending led to Catarina Macario tapping in the third. But Barcelona hadn’t been dominated - on the contrary, this was an end-to-end contest and the Catalan club were soon on the scoresheet as Putellas pulled one back before half-time.

Barcelona's Patricia Guijarro hit the crossbar with a lob from the centre circle, as Barcelona tried every different way they could imagine to battle back in the second half, but Chile goalkeeper Christiane Endler's resolute display helped Lyon claim an iconic win.

Match details

Barcelona (4-3-3): Panos 6; Torrejon 6 (Crnogorcevic 7, 59), Paredes 7, Leon 6, Rolfo 7 (Pina 6, 75) Bonmati 7, Alexia 7, Guijarro 8; Graham Hansen 6, Hermoso 6 (Oshoala 7, 46), Mariona 7 (Martens 7, 59)

Subs not used: Font (gk), Meritxell Munoz (gk), Serrano, Ouahabi, Pereira, Engen

Yellow cards: Leon

Lyon (4-3-3): Endler 8; Carpenter 6 (Buchanan 7, 14), Renard 7, Mbock Bathy 6 (Cayman 6, 81), Bacha 8; Horan 7, Henry 8, Macario 8; Cascarino 7 (Morroni 6, 81), Hegerberg 8, Malard 7 (Le Sommer 6, 72)

Subs not used: Bouhaddi (gk), Holmgren (gk), Gunnarsdottir, Egurrola, Van de Donk, Sombath, Laurent, Benyahia

Yellow cards: Hegerberg, Macario

Referee: Lina Lehtovaara (Finland)

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