A stunning early strike from Norway star Caroline Graham Hansen gave Barcelona a 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their Women’s Champions League semi-final tie on Saturday.
Hansen cut in from the right before arrowing a left-foot strike beyond the reach of Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger in the fourth minute in west London, and Barcelona then held on for a result that leaves them in a strong position going into the return next Thursday.
Barcelona will have a huge crowd behind them in the second leg at the Camp Nou as they aim to reach a third consecutive Champions League final, after beating Chelsea in 2021 and losing to Lyon last year.
The winners will advance to the final in the Dutch city of Eindhoven on June 3 against either Wolfsburg or Arsenal, who clash in the first leg of their last-four tie in Germany on Sunday.
Chelsea had knocked out Lyon in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in the quarter-finals but they were second-best here in front of a crowd of over 27,000 and will need a special performance in Catalonia to turn the tie around.
Barcelona, who are close to sealing another Spanish title, may also be able to call on Alexia Putellas in that game after the two-time Ballon d’Or winner travelled with the team to London. She has not played since suffering a serious knee injury last July.
However, they must hope that an injury that forced England star Lucy Bronze off in the second half does not turn out to be serious.
Bronze went down in the 66th minute and then hobbled off down the tunnel in obvious discomfort before reappearing on the bench with an ice pack around her knee.
That will also have been a worrying sight for England coach Sarina Wiegman with the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand just three months away and after her captain Leah Williamson was ruled out of the tournament.
Williamson suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury while playing for Arsenal in midweek.
Bronze had earlier made a crucial block to deny Guro Reiten after the Norwegian had rounded Barcelona goalkeeper Sandra Panos in the 27th minute.
Reiten also had a goal disallowed for offside before that for Chelsea, who were given a huge boost late on when Denmark international Pernille Harder came off the bench for her first appearance since November after injury.
World Cup News
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday blasted as “insufficient” the apology given by...
Spain’s Women’s World Cup hero Olga Carmona paid tribute to her father on Monday...
Spain midfielder Jenni Hermoso defended Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales after he came...
Sunday’s World Cup final between England and Spain is the final act of a...