Barcelona defend Women’s Champions League title with win over Lyon in final

Second-half strikes by Ballon d’Or winners Aitana Bonmati and Alexia Putellas inspired Barcelona’s Women’s Champions League title defence and a maiden quadruple with a 2-0 victory over Lyon in Spain.

Bonmati, named the best women’s footballer in the world last year, broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute before Putellas, who took the captain’s armband when she was brought on in the third minute of stoppage time, ensured her club’s name would be etched onto the trophy for the third time in their history.

It was the first time Barca, fielding a line-up that included England midfielder Keira Walsh and a particularly in-form Lucy Bronze, had ever beaten the French champions in five times of asking, doing so in front of a record-breaking crowd of 50,827 for a Women’s Champions League final at Bilbao’s San Mames Stadium.

Emma Hayes had hoped to conclude her 12 years at Chelsea with victory in this final, the one trophy that eluded the new United States manager, before her move across the pond.

But the Blues came up just short of their second Champions League showpiece, and it was Hayes’ hotly-tipped potential successor, Sonia Bompastor, whose Lyon side could not find their way past Chelsea’s last-four executioners for what would have been a ninth title in their history.

The French league champions were nearly gifted an opener when Bronze’s attempt to clear a Lyon header skimmed her own crossbar, while Barca almost pulled ahead before the break when Christiane Endler was able to block Patricia Guijarro’s effort from a tight angle, but the rebound took a dangerous deflection off the keeper’s team-mate before it was cleared off the line by an alert Selma Bacha.

Lyon perhaps should have taken the lead when captain Wendie Renard could not put the finishing touch on Lindsey Horan’s clever flicked delivery after the restart, but it was Bonmati who finally fired Barcelona into a 63rd-minute lead with a looping effort that caught the leg of Vanessa Gilles before going into the top right.

Putellas two years ago ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and missed out on Euro 2022, but was part of the Spain squad that lifted the World Cup last summer, and four days ago signed a new deal that will keep the enormously popular player in the Catalonian capital for two more years.

It was a rousing ovation that greeted the 30-year-old when she stepped out onto the pitch in the third minute of stoppage time, a sound quickly upgraded to a roar when she found the back of the net three minutes later to cap off the victory.


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