Barcelona took a step forward to reaching the Women’s Champions League final by defeating Chelsea 1-0 in the first leg of their semifinal clash.
In front of 27,697 fans at Stamford Bridge – a record crowd for a women’s Champions League game in the UK – Barcelona took the lead in the fourth minute thanks to Caroline Graham Hansen’s brilliant goal and never relinquished it.
“I think we did an amazing job,” Jonatan Giráldez said afterwards, according to UEFA. “Of course we knew that it was a difficult game.
“We stopped them many times in the game. We had patience with the ball, had a lot of chances – maybe we could have scored more goals but in the end we got a victory and everything is open for the second leg.”
Graham Hansen opened the scoring early in the first half, going on a mazy run before finding the back of the net with a sensational long-range effort.
“It was just one of these moments you get the ball, everything fits when you go for it and you know it’s going to be a goal,” she said afterwards, according to UEFA website.
But the Blues regrouped after conceding the early goal, engineering chances for Guto Reiten and Sam Kerr, and banishing any thoughts of a similar collapse against Barcelona in the 2021 Champions League final when it lost 4-0.
“I can’t ask any more of the players,” Chelsea manager Emma Hayes told the club website afterwards.
“I think they gave their maximum. I remember that we lost the Champions League (final in 2021) after 25 minutes so I think it’s important for us to remember it’s half time and we’re 1-0 down that it’s important for us to learn and improve and get ready for our away leg.”
Barcelona continued to press in the second half but suffered a setback midway through when defender Lucy Bronze exited with a knee injury, though Giráldez later confirmed that it wasn’t serious.
“It was something in her knee, but now she is fine,” he said. “In the moment we made the substitution because it looked bad, but in this moment the feeling is really good.”
The second leg will be played at Camp Nou on April 27.