The first set of quarter finals in the Women’s Champions League this week were filled with so much action. Manchester City already find themselves in a sticky situation after only a single leg, whereas fellow English side Chelsea ran away with the spoils in a much tighter game.
Women’s Champions League Quarter Finals First Leg:
FC Barcelona Women vs Manchester City LFC (3-0)
For the first few minutes it seemed like an end to end game at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, but City failed to take their chances. Barcelona Femení, on the other hand, frequently tested City’s keeper, Ellie Roebuck, who made some quality saves and likely would have seen the English side concede more. At times it felt like the Sky Blues were merely winging it, without any game plan or tactical arrangement. Although, one could argue that this was simply down to Barcelona’s possession-based style- Manchester City only registering 39% possession in the second half; unfamiliar territory indeed. Barcelona took a 35th minute lead thanks to the fantastic Asisat Oshoala, as a result of an unlikely defensive error from Lucy Bronze.
Ten minutes into the second half, Mariona Caldentey- who had previously assisted the first goal- scored a penalty won by the aforementioned Oshoala. Demi Stokes- whose foul led to the set piece- had only been subbed on for Esme Morgan 5 minutes prior. Even though Barcelona were the favourites to win, one would have expected Manchester City to at least attempt to fight back with the quality of players they possess. Alas, even with the likes of Lucy Bronze, Abby Dahlkemper, Sam Mewis, and Rose Lavelle, they bowed out with a whimper.
Lauren Hemp was abnormally all over the place, attempting to create chances for her teammates which she normally does with ease. However, the Spaniards effectively cut her off from her anytime she made a break for their final third. But, only three minutes after Barcelona’s second, one of Hemp’s runs gifted City a penalty. It was an opportunity for the English representatives- who find themselves second place in the FA Women’s Super League- to get back in the game, and secure a valuable away goal. Though, in a moment that hilariously summed up the game so far, it was read well by Sandra Panos and deflected over the post.
The nail in City’s coffin came from Jennifer Hermoso, little surprise when one hears that she is Barcelona’s top scorer this season. With an astounding 42 goals in 38 games- Lewandowski, eat your heart out.
As the famous folktale goes, don’t count your chickens before they hatch- but it would not be outrageous to suggest that City are out of this year’s UWCL campaign. Unless, in a similar vein to Liverpool’s 2019 Champions League turnaround against the same Spanish giants, they can pull out a miracle in their next Women’s Champions League fixture. Then again, this is football; stranger things have happened.
Chelsea LFC vs VFL Wolfsburg (2-1)
Chelsea went into this match having never won against Wolfsburg in their history, so the pressure was on in this Women’s Champions League fixture. But, it is important to note that the Chelsea team Wolfsburg had faced the last six times and the Chelsea they faced this week are worlds apart. At first, the London-based ladies were far more dominant. Perhaps it was due to suboptimal pitch conditions, meaning Wolfsburg had to settle into the game, but- when they eventually did find their feet- they overturned the tide.
The German outfit were comfortable for the rest of the game bar a few moments of Chelsea brilliance here and there. It was the mentality of the English side, the world-class Ann-Katrin Berger, the goal post, and the combination of Sam Kerr & Fran Kirby (colloquially coined “Kerrby”) that saw the Blues to their first ever win against Wolfsburg. The unstoppable Kerrby combined to score the first when a pass from Kirby found its way to Kerr through the Wolfsburg defence. The opposition defenders and goalkeeper appealed for an offside but were unsuccessful in their efforts.
The second goal for Chelsea was this time a Kerrby assist, resulting from a defensive error after both Katarzyna Kiedrzynek and Sara Doorsoun failed to play out from the back. Kirby was first to reach the loose ball and, with Kerr linking the move together, got it to Pernille Harder. Harder- who had already scuffed a one-on-one before- buried it into the back of the net, further punishing Die Wölfe. Wolfsburg got themselves back in the game when Magdalena Eriksson- the Chelsea Captain- conceded a penalty allowing Dominique Janssen to join the scoring sheet.
The two teams both have a lot more to do in the second- and it’s anybody’s game. Will the away goal prove lifesaving for the German side? It has certainly been an exciting week in the Women’s Champions League.
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