HomeSportsBarcelona 0-1 Chelsea: Erin Cuthbert scores winner as Chelsea stuns Barcelona

Barcelona 0-1 Chelsea: Erin Cuthbert scores winner as Chelsea stuns Barcelona

Chelsea produced a stunning performance at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys to beat Barcelona in the first leg of the Women’s Champions League semi-final.

It was the first time since February 2019 that Barcelona have been beaten in a league match on their home turf and it shows the huge progress Chelsea have made in European competition under manager Emma Hayes.

Scotland international Erin Cuthbert scored the winner, firing past goalkeeper Catalina Coll in the first half to complete a smart team move after Sjoeke Nusken had her tied up in the penalty area.

There was a huge opportunity for Barcelona to equalize in the final seconds when former two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas went wide from a few yards out and fell to her knees in disbelief.

It capped a fascinating tactical battle as Chelsea endured an intense period of early pressure from Barcelona before eventually finding space to threaten the hosts.

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Hayes set her side up to defend with a back five and it worked brilliantly as Barca failed to get a shot on target.

The hosts thought they had found a breakthrough in the second half when they were awarded a penalty for handball by Kadeisha Buchanan, but it was overturned after a video assistant referee. [VAR] check, because Salma Paralluelo was offside in the build-up.

Chelsea’s luck was needed against the defending champions, but this was a huge achievement from Hayes’ side and will go down as one of their most impressive performances of her nine-year tenure.

They must look to get the job done in the second leg at Stamford Bridge on Saturday 27 April (kick-off 6.30pm BST) against a Barcelona side who have reached the final in four of the last five seasons.

Chelsea upset the European favorites with a historic victory

Hayes said Friday she “wasn’t thinking about fairytales” in her final season in charge before taking over the U.S. women’s national team — but this felt close.

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The Women’s Champions League trophy has eluded Hayes and her side so far, with Barcelona beating them 4-0 in the 2021 final and knocking them out in the semi-finals last season.

Barcelona, ​​widely regarded as the best team in Europe at the moment, were favorites at home and excitement rippled through the city on Saturday morning.

With Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmati among the many stars in attendance, the majority of the 36,428 fans in attendance came dressed in red and blue, chanting ‘Barca, Barca, Barca’ and expecting their side to deliver.

Barcelona started as planned, dominating possession, putting Chelsea in their own half and building pressure through Bonmati, Caroline Graham Hansen and Paralluelo.

But Chelsea’s wing-backs, once they settled down and worked out Barcelona’s shape, started to find space and cause problems at the other end.

Johanna Rytting Kaneryd found joy on the right, while Ashley Lawrence was a standout on the left, feeding striker Mayra Ramirez and using midfielder Melanie Leupolz to change the game.

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Both teams had created a couple of half-chances, but Chelsea took advantage of their pressure: Nusken turned in the penalty area and met Cuthbert’s turn, whose powerful strike flew into the net.

Barcelona’s Paralluelo and Chelsea’s Ramirez both hit wide from big chances late on after VAR overturned the penalty decision, but Hayes’ side did enough to hold on for a historic win in Spain when Putellas’ effort sailed past the post.

It means there could be another fairytale ending for Hayes if they can hold out in London next week and book their place in the final for the second time in the club’s history.

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