A ruthless first-half performance saw Barcelona Femeni demolish Chelsea Women 4-0 to lift their first Women’s Champions League trophy.
The tone of the game was set inside a minute when Lieke Martens smashed an effort against the crossbar before Melanie Leupolz inadvertently looped the ball into her own net to gift Barcelona the opening goal.
And in all honesty, Chelsea never really recovered.
Leupolz was penalised again soon after following a foul on Jennifer Hermoso inside the area. Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas then fired home from the penalty spot to double Barcelona’s lead inside 12 minutes.
The Spanish side soon took matters into their own hands as they continued to overpower Chelsea, with Aitana Bonmati (21) and Caroline Graham Hansen (36) both scoring from close range to ultimately secure their maiden Champions League title.
Chelsea improved after the break, but will be rueing a string of missed chances in both halves, particularly from Pernille Harder – beaten for a third time in the Champions League final – and Sam Kerr.
It was redemption for Barcelona after their defeat to Lyon in the 2019 final, in which they were on the end of a 4-1 defeat. There will also be plenty for Emma Hayes and Chelsea to take from their first foray into a European final.
How Barcelona blew Chelsea away
Thirty-three seconds after kick-off and Barcelona were gifted their opening goal. Martens’ thunderous effort smacked off the crossbar, with Hansen sending the ball back into the area. Fran Kirby tried to clear, but her effort pinged off Leupolz’s leg and looped into the back of the net.
The next 10 minutes saw chances at either end. Harder did superbly well to get in behind, before her shot was seen behind by Sandra Panos. Ann-Katrin Berger sent Maria Leon’s effort looping over the bar, before Harder was through again, but Marta Torrejon helped shepherd the ball behind for a corner.
Chelsea: Berger (6), Charles (6), Bright (7), Eriksson (7), Carter (6), Leupolz (6), Ingle (6), Kirby (7), Harder (7), Ji (7), Kerr (6).
Subs used: Reiten (7), England (6), Cuthbert (6).
Barcelona: Panos (6), Maria Leon (7), Hermoso (8), Torrejon (7), Hamraoui (7), Putellas (7), Patri (7), Bonmati (8), Leila (7), Graham (8), Martens (8).
Subs used: Melanie (6), Losada (6), Mariona (6), Crnogorcevic (6), Oshoala (6).
Player of the match: Jennifer Hermoso.
Things got worse for Chelsea when Barcelona were awarded a penalty in the 12th minute. Leupolz was penalised for catching Hermoso with a trailing leg, with the referee and VAR confirming the spot-kick. Barcelona captain Putellas powered the penalty home to double the lead.
- Emma Hayes named an unchanged side from the final Women’s Super League game, where they beat Reading 5-0 at Kingsmeadow.
- 17-year-olds Jorja Fox and Agnes Beever-Jones were also named among the substitutes.
Chelsea barely had a second on the ball, overpowered by Barcelona’s quick passing and lightning-fast attacks, with the Spanish side adding their third in the 21st minute. A cut-back from the left wing found Hermoso just outside the area, with the forward slotting the ball through for Bonmati. Jess Carter did her best to stop the midfielder, but Bonmati shook her off before tapping home.
It was another close-range finish for Barcelona’s fourth. Martens was picked out down the left with a superb, sprayed pass and she easily breezed past Niamh Charles. Martens then squared the ball for the waiting Hansen in the middle as she swept the ball past Berger.
Chelsea were much improved at the start of the second half. Kerr and Kirby linked up for the first time, but the former’s effort easily looped into Panos’ arms. The striker almost went close again soon after as half-time substitute Guro Reiten delivered a superb cross, but it just evaded Kerr in the middle.
Chelsea continued to see chances fall their way as Barcelona sat back. Kirby was sent away down the left, with Kerr just missing her delivery at the back post. However, the offside flag was raised against Kirby in the build-up. Harder then nodded a Reiten free-kick straight into Panos’ hands as Chelsea continued to struggle in front of goal.
Barcelona saw less attacking play after the break, but Asisat Oshoala thought she had rounded things off in the best way possible in injury-time. Vicky Losada squared the ball to her inside the area and she swept home, but the offside flag was up against Losada.
Hayes: Inexperience cost us
Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes told BT Sport:
“It’s been a wonderful season for us, today was difficult because the game was over before it began and that’s what is so difficult to reflect on.
“To concede so early, we had two good chances and then they got the second through the penalty.
“Ann hasn’t had a save to make but we’ve lost 4-0, but the damage was done, I’m proud of the second-half performance, the players gave it everything.
“Congratulations to Barcelona, they’re worthy winners, deserving of the title and it’s something we will learn from because this is the next step. We showed some naivety at times.
“They were favourites for a reason and you have to stay in the game against this team. the early goal and the manner in which we conceded it… it’s an own goal and a penalty and we’re 2-0.
“That’s the difference. Everything fell for them – they got the rub of the green and they made that happen. They’re a wonderful team… I certainly will be gracious in defeat.
“Being in this position helps because as I said to the players, look at the scoreboard. That’s got to be a motivating factor when they come back for pre-season because this will stay with them over the summer.
“I felt calm coming into the game but I think some of the inexperience cost us. But they will grow and improve from that. They’re all really proud of the shift they put in.
“We have won the double so we’re not trophyless, but I’m gutted we didn’t get the chance to actually make a game of it. I did my best, I tried to coach the players and change a few things, just to give us a little bit of momentum.
“We’re not quite European champions but we’re the second best and I’ll take that as a step in the right direction.”
Player of the match – Jennifer Hermoso
In truth, you could have picked any of the Barcelona players, but Hermoso lived up to her pre-match reputation. She may not have found the net, but she was vital in Barcelona’s attacking play, and shares the Women’s Champions League Golden Boot with Fran Kirby.
Chelsea will be back in action on Thursday when they host Everton in the fifth round of the Women’s FA Cup. There are still league games to play for Barcelona, who host Athletic Bilbao in the Primera Division on Wednesday.