Barca reach women’s Champions League final with Chelsea draw

BARCELONA (Reuters): A second-half goal by Barcelona winger Caroline Graham Hansen earned a 1-1 home draw with Chelsea on Thursday in their women’s Champions League semi-final, second leg for a 2-1 aggregate win and a third straight appearance in the showpiece match.

Barca had edged Chelsea 1-0 in the first leg after Graham Hansen’s early strike and in the final on June 3 will face either Arsenal or VfL Wolfsburg, who drew 2-2 in the first leg in Germany and play the second leg in London on Monday.

Despite some first-half chances it took Barca 63 minutes to increase their advantage from the first leg although Chelsea were quick to respond through Guro Reiten, alerting the 2020-21 winners that they would not be giving up without a fight.

However, Barca managed to hold on and reach the final.

“We’ve worked day and night for years to achieve this,” said Player of the Match Aitana Bonmati, who earned an assist on Graham Hansen’s goal. “To reach the final in front of our own fans was fantastic but now we have to go and win it.

“In the second half I knew it was a tense situation but also a dangerous one because one slip from us could have let Chelsea level the tie.

“Then when Chelsea scored so soon after we went ahead, it was time to manage our performance. That’s key in elite football: you can enjoy yourself but you’ll always have to suffer.”

Barcelona could have opened the scoring early in the return leg through a close-range Graham Hansen goal but it was ruled out for a handball in the eighth minute.

Forwards Asisat Oshoala and Mariona Caldentey had two more chances for the hosts with the clash goalless at halftime.

Barca continued to push for a goal after the break and eventually broke the deadlock through Graham Hansen, who fired through the Chelsea keeper’s legs from a tight angle.

Chelsea grew into the game in the second half and equalised four minutes later when winger Reiten found the net from a rebound following a counter-attack.

But despite Emma Hayes’ Chelsea side pushing for the winner on the night which would have taken the tie into extra time, they failed to add to the scoreline.

“I cannot ask any more from my players,” Hayes said. “We lost the tie because of the home leg.

“We were brave, we executed the game plan, everyone delivered a performance and I’ve never seen a Barca team so panicked. Especially second half, we were the better team.

“We’ve shown a lot of wisdom and experience tonight – it just wasn’t enough.”