Barcelona drew 1-1 against Chelsea in the second leg of the semifinal of the Women’s Champions League. That result was enough for the Catalan side to reach their third consecutive Champions League final.
Caroline Graham Hansen broke the deadlock in the second half after a determined run from Aitana Bonmati. The Barcelona midfielder ran at the Chelsea defense to just outside the box where she saw a wide open Hansen and laid the ball off. The Norwegian was not going to let this chance slip away.
The goal was a breath of fresh air for Barcelona as the clock kept ticking and despite being the better team, were still only up by the slimmest of margin. But that sense of calm wouldn’t last long as Chelsea answered minutes later.
Chelsea recovered the ball in midfield and a ball was played over the top to Sam Kerr. Kerr was through on a one-on-one versus Sandra Paños. The Barça goalkeeper saved her shot but the ball landed to Guro Reiten who slammed the rebound into the back of the net.
It was only then that Chelsea seemed to believe they could do Barcelona what they did to Lyon. But aside from a couple of hand chances, Barcelona kept their attacks at bay.
Utilizing his strong bench, Jonatan Giraldez brought on Geyse Ferreira to strengthen the attack. More than anything, the Brazilian was brought on to keep the ball as she is adept at playing with her back to goal and fending off defenders. Her ability to do just that allowed Barcelona to keep possession and see the game through.
The final whistle blew with Alexia Putellas not seeing any playing time. As much as Barcelona supporters would have liked to see her play, it didn’t take away from the fact they advanced to the final against Eindhoven, reaching their third consecutive final in the process.
Barcelona were the better team throughout both legs. Despite the draw, had Barcelona took some of their chances in the first half, the final result could have been different. Though that isn’t the way Chelsea manager Emma Hayes saw things.
“We are disappointed,” Hayes said. “I don’t know too many teams that come here as brave as we were. You have to survive the first part of the game, there is a huge crowd here and an incredibly intimidating environment.
“The players managed it well and grew into game. The second half we dominated, yes they had transitions, that’s normal, but I am very proud of the players.”
Hayes went on to say had they had more time, Chelsea would have won it.
Unsurprisingly, Giraldez saw things differently.
“A semifinal is about both legs,” Giraldez said. “We were better in the first leg and I thought the result could have been bigger with the chances we created. And again I thought we were better today for the majority of the game.
“We didn’t take the openings we created in the first half. I don’t know how many chances we created in the first 60 or 70 minutes. After their goal, Chelsea were more aggressive and we had to compete, but I didn’t have the sensation they were creating a lot, either.”
Down a goal, Chelsea more or less threw the first half away, creating little to nothing and let Barcelona dictate the play. It was a rather strange tactic and only showed a sense of urgency after they fell behind another goal.
Regardless, all Barcelona will care about is they’re through to the final where they will try to avenge their lost last season. They’re aiming to win their second Champions League in three years and await the winner between Arsenal and Wolfsburg.