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  • Writer's pictureTone Rasmussen

UWCL: Barcelona and Lyon will play for the title

After the two legs of the UWCL semifinal have been played the two teams who will meet at Sam Memés in Bilbao, Spain is determined. Barcelona will play in their fourth straight Champions League final. Lyon is playing in their tenth overall final and for their ninth Champions League trophy.

Barcelona surprisingly lost to Chelsea at home in the first leg, handing Barcelona their first loss at home in five years. A first-half strike from Erin Cuthbert and a VAR overturned penalty for Barcelona seemed to be the recipe for success for Emma Hayes. In Emma Hayes' 14 years at the helm at Chelsea, only the Champions League trophy is missing from the collection.

Hayes made it clear that a lead of only one goal made her nervous and said that a sold-out Stamford Bridge in the return match would be essential to keep the lead and advance to Bilbao. A week later, Chelsea and Barcelona walked onto the pitch in front of a sold-out Stamford Bridge, with almost 40,000 in attendance for what would be a very debated match.

The Catalunya side did not look fazed by the record crowd and already reduced the 0-1 deficit in the 26th minute. Ballon Dór winner Aitana Bonmati got the ball after a precise pass from outside the box by Patri Guijarro, one-stepped by Niahm Charles, and sent a right-footed strike towards goal. The shot got deflected off Chelsea defender Kadeisha Buchanan and away from Hannah Hampton in goal. Chelsea came close to scoring several times but were ultimately not efficient enough in front of goal. To make matters worse Kadeisha Buchanan got her second yellow card in five minutes after a late tackle on Patri Guijarro and was sent off by the referee.

Barcelona came close to scoring several times but the 10-man Chelsea team defended well. The decisive goal came 15 minutes before full time when Bonmati got tripped up by Carter and Lawrence in the Chelsea box. Fridolina Rölfo confidently sent Hannah Hampton the wrong way and put Barcelona up 2-1 on aggregate. That was also the result when the final whistle blew and Barcelona effectively booked their ticket to their third straight UWCL final.

In the other semi-final, French rivals PSG and Lyon would be facing off, yet again. In the first leg, Lyon found themselves 2-0 down after a brace from Marie-Antoinette Katoto, scoring minutes before and after halftime. They then pulled off a late comeback to go into the second leg with a one-goal advantage.

All three of Lyons's goals came in the last ten minutes of the game. Ellie Carpenter sent in a low ball which ended up at the feet of Kadidiatou Diani who sent a low strike to the far post. The second goal came five minutes later when Wendie Renard got the ball after a scrabble in the PSG box, Renard passed it along to Melchie Dumornay who easily sidestepped a PSG defender and drilled it in the roof of the net. Lyon had now nullified the deficit and would go into the second leg with a fresh slate, but Amel Majri had other plans. Only a minute after Dumornay scored the 2-2 goal, she got the ball at the top of the box and passed it along to Majri who shook off Amalie Vansgaard and placed the ball with perfect precision just outside of Picauds reach.

Only on one occasion has Paris Saint-Germain knocked Lyon out of the Champions League and it can be hard going into the second leg a goal down after being up for 80 minutes. At Parc des Princes a few days later, Lyon's Selma Bacha scored an early goal for the visitors. After a short corner move, Bacha found herself at the top of the box without pressure and fired a shot to the nearest post just out of reach of the goalkeeper.

PSG were now down 2 goals and had to put the pressure on if they wanted to beat their fiercest rivals. Just before halftime, a spark of hope was lit when Katoto found Chawinga who sent a low shot, between the legs of Gilles and into the far corner. The hosts kept the pressure on and tried to find the goals they needed but ultimately had to see Lyon extend their lead nine minutes before full-time. Majri laid the ball back for Dumornay to send Lyon to their tenth Champions League final.

Lyon and Barcelona have met in two Champions League finals previously. Lyon won 4-1 in 2019 and 3-1 in 2022. Barcelona reclaimed the title last season after coming back from down two goals against Wolfsburg. Barcelona have been as steady as ever this season and Lyon are looking to claim the title back in a season where they have yet to lose. The final will be played at San Mèmes in Bilbao on May 25th.


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