Chelsea Edges Past Barcelona with a 1-0 Win in Women’s Champions League Semifinal

Chelsea Edges Past Barcelona with a 1-0 Win in Women’s Champions League Semifinal

Erin Cuthbert led Chelsea to a significant 1-0 victory over Barcelona in the Women’s Champions League semifinal first-leg match on Saturday. This match marked Barcelona’s first home defeat in five years, disrupting their streak as the defending champions.

Chelsea Edges Past Barcelona with a 1-0 Win in Women’s Champions League Semifinal

In a crucial moment at the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium, two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas missed a golden opportunity to tie the game, shooting wide from close range on the final play. This miss allowed Emma Hayes’ Chelsea team to return to Stamford Bridge with an upper hand.

Chelsea executed a strategic game, suppressing the typical fluidity of Barcelona’s play by limiting their time and space, a tactic that culminated in the 40th minute. Mayra Ramirez initiated the pivotal play by forcing a turnover, which led to Sjoeke Nüsken setting up Cuthbert who skillfully bypassed a defender and launched the ball into the top right corner, stunning the 36,428 spectators. Reflecting on the match, Hayes told broadcaster DAZN, “It’s just halftime, nobody should get carried away with that. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the second goal. They are world class in everything they do. You have to expect they’re going to create chances, but I think for the most part we limited them.”

Despite a storied past, Chelsea has never claimed the Women’s Champions League title, with their closest attempt ending in a 4-0 defeat to Barcelona in 2021. Conversely, Barcelona was pursuing its third title in four years but must now regroup for the upcoming second-leg match in London.

Barcelona nearly had a chance to equalize with a penalty following a handball by Chelsea’s Kadeisha Buchanan in the 52nd minute, but the call was reversed after a video review found Salma Paralluelo to be offside. Paralluelo later missed another key scoring chance.

Barcelona defender Irene Paredes acknowledged the effectiveness of Chelsea’s tactics, saying, “They played well, but we have lots of things we can improve because we did not attack with the precision we are accustomed to. They got the game they wanted. They were trying to let the clock tick from the very start, and then they got their goal. You have to give credit to the way they defended and hung in there.”

Meanwhile, the European women’s football scene continues to thrive with an upcoming match between Paris Saint-Germain and eight-time champion Lyon at Groupama Stadium, expected to break attendance records with over 35,000 tickets sold. This vibrant competition demonstrates the increasing popularity and competitive intensity of women’s football across Europe.

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