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Olympique Lyonnais reclaimed their Women’s Champions League title defeating the defending champions FC Barcelona, who had previously swept all before them throughout the season only to fall short against the team they have still never beaten.
Over the course of two seasons, Barcelona only three defeats had come in inconsequential matches as they steamrollered their way through the Spanish league championship and Champions League demolishing the English champions Chelsea 4-0 in last year’s final. However, they had never defeated Lyon, who had hammered them 4-1 in their previous meeting in the competition in the 2019 final.
That had been Barcelona’s first final against the-then dominant force in European club football. Now, following five straight victories in the competition, Lyon had been deposed by Barcelona last season and the style with which the Catalan side had overcome all challengers in this campaign, with a free-flowing passing style against which opponents seemed to have no answer, encouraged many to believe, it was they, not Lyon were now the superpower in the women’s game.
After setting world record attendances at their Camp Nou home in their two previous UEFA Champions League round, at least 13,000 fans from Barcelona traveled from Spain to northern Italy to attend the match, an unprecedented movement of women’s soccer fans to watch a club match. This compared to the 3,500 ticket holders from France in a crowd of 32,257.
Yet when the two finally came face-to-face in today’s much-anticipated final, Lyon seemed to have lost nothing from the side who scored four goals in 30 minutes against Barcelona in the 2019 final, once again winning the game in a devastating first-half spell to lead 3-0 before Barcelona’s World Player of the Year, Alexia Putellas pulled one goal back just before the break.
There were no further goals in the second half as Lyon held out to claim back their European title and become European Champions for an incredible eighth time in twelve seasons. Captain Wendie Renard, who had become the first soccer player in history to play in ten European Cup finals, lifted the trophy for a record eighth time.
Lyon’s decisive second goal was scored by the competition’s all-time record goalscorer Ada Hegerberg, who had also scored a hat-trick against FC Barcelona in 2019. Her 59th goal in the competition, a far-post header in the 23rd minute, meant she has now scored in four different European Cup finals, a feat last achieved by the great Alfredo Di Stefano who scored in five successive finals for Real Madrid between 1956 and 1960.
United States’ international Catarina Macario added the third in the 33rd minute to become the first woman from her country to score in a UEFA
Lyon’s coach Sonia Bompastor also made history as the first female coach to lead her side to victory in the competition since Martina Voss-Tecklenburg led Duisburg to the title in 2009. As captain of the first two winning Lyon sides in 2011 and 2012, Bompastor will also go down as the first woman to play in and coach a UEFA Women’s Champions League winning side.
Before the game, Bompastor was insistent that her side could impose themselves on Barcelona while maintaining “a magician never reveals their tricks”. Afterwards she admitted that “my team talk was very easy. This is the most beautiful match and beautiful competition a club can dream of playing. From the start, the idea was to put pressure on them and force them to defend with a high block.”
On Hegerberg, Bompastor said “Ada is one of the leaders of the group. She is a powerhouse, she is exemplary. She’s very professional, be that on but also off the pitch. I am delighted for her because as you know, she went through a very tough time with her injury.”
“She came back with a level that allowed her to gain her confidence back but she really needed to work very hard to get to where she is tonight. This evening she scored a goal, she also showed she was a leader and she led against this Barcelona team. I am delighted for her, for myself and the club that she’s back to her best.”