By Bart H. Meijer EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (Reuters) -Barcelona won their second Women’s Champions League in three years on Saturday when they came back from two goals down to beat VfL Wolfsburg 3-2 in a thrilling final before a sold-out crowd in Eindhoven. Swedish defender Fridolina Rolfo struck the winning goal from close range in the […]
Soccer-Barcelona clinch Women’s Champions League in comeback victory
By Bart H. Meijer
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (Reuters) -Barcelona won their second Women’s Champions League in three years on Saturday when they came back from two goals down to beat VfL Wolfsburg 3-2 in a thrilling final before a sold-out crowd in Eindhoven.
Swedish defender Fridolina Rolfo struck the winning goal from close range in the 70th minute, rounding off a sensational comeback for Barcelona who had been 2-0 down at halftime.
The Spanish league champions quickly set the record straight in the second half as Patricia Guijarro scored two goals in the first five minutes after the break.
The equaliser came as no surprise as Barcelona had dominated play for most of the first half, lacking efficiency only in front of the goal.
They had threatened to score in the opening minutes, before Polish striker Ewa Pajor put Wolfsburg ahead in the third minute after pressuring Barcelona’s English defender Lucy Bronze into losing possession.
Barcelona quickly increased the pressure but saw Salma Paralluelo and Aitana Bonmati squander chances when face-to-face with Wolfsburg goalkeeper Merle Frohms, while Irene Paredes headed a corner wide from close range.
Wolfsburg waited for their chances on the counter-attack and saw their patience rewarded in the 37th minute when Pajor played a perfect cross to Alexandra Popp who headed in the German team’s second goal against the run of play.
The missed chances did not demoralise Barcelona and they came out fighting in the second half.
Norwegian winger Caroline Graham Hansen, a threat throughout the match, tore through the Wolfsburg defence to set up Guijarro for Barcelona’s first goal.
Two minutes later, Graham Hansen swung in a cross from the right-hand side to Guijarro who headed in the equaliser.
In the end, Barcelona’s second-half whirlwind proved too much for Wolfsburg, who were chasing their first Champions League crown since 2014.
They came close to an equaliser once, from a corner in stoppage time, but in the end offered too little to prevent Barcelona from lifting the trophy in front of nearly 34,000 fans in Eindhoven’s PSV Stadium.
“Today it was me, but it was everyone’s hunger and belief in ourselves that helped us through it,” goalscorer Guijarro told the post-match press conference.
“The first half felt unfair but it’s how you react that counts and the reaction was excellent,” Barcelona coach Jonatan Giraldez added.
Wolfsburg coach Tommy Stroot said the difference between the sides had been small, with the match decided on little details.
“I think we have seen an incredible match with great quality, of course from Barcelona but also from our side,” he said. “And I think it was great for women’s football.”
This year’s final was the first before a sold-out crowd in the history of the Women’s Champions League and attracted the biggest crowd ever to a women’s soccer match played in the Netherlands.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer; editing by Clare Fallon)