Women’s Champions League: Chelsea and Lyon bring leads into return legs of semifinals

Emma Hayes didn’t want anyone to get carried away by Chelsea’s surprise 1-0 win over Barcelona last week in the Women’s Champions League semifinals.

That’s because Chelsea needs to finish the job Saturday in the second-leg match to reach just its second final — in Hayes’ final season at the club.

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Defending champion Barcelona won at Stamford Bridge in the semifinals a year ago and arrived in London with more than enough firepower — evident on the team aeroplane emblazoned with players’ images — to make a comeback.

Lyon faces Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday at Parc des Princes in the other second-leg semifinal. Eight-time champion Lyon trailed 2-0 but came back to win 3-2 in last week’s opener.

The final is on May 25 in Bilbao, Spain.

Here’s a closer look at the second-leg matches

Chelsea vs Barcelona

Even with a high-powered attack led by playmaker and Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmati, Barcelona failed to get a shot on target in the first leg.

That should change as Barcelona will look to play much faster. 

Erin Cuthbert’s 40th-minute goal was enough for Chelsea to hand Barcelona its first home loss in five years. The Blues stayed compact in defence and took away passing lanes. 

Some of Barcelona’s problems were self-inflicted: Salma Paralluelo misfired on a couple of second-half chances before two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas put a shot wide from point-blank range just before the final whistle. 

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A year ago, Caroline Graham Hansen scored early at Stamford Bridge in Barcelona’s 1-0 first-leg victory. Barcelona beat Wolfsburg 3-2 in last season’s Champions League final for its second title. 

Chelsea reached the final in 2021, losing 4-0 to Barcelona. 

Both coaches are headed to the United States after the season. Hayes is taking over as coach of the U.S. women’s national team. Barcelona coach Jonatan Giraldez will be the coach of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.

PSG vs Lyon

The Parisians dominated much of the first leg and led 2-0 on goals by striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto either side of halftime. But old friend Kadidiatou Diani — who signed with Lyon in the offseason — poked home a goal in the 80th minute, and PSG couldn’t contain Lyon’s surge.

Within minutes, Melchie Dumornay tied it before Amel Majri made it 3-2 in the 86th. 

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Now, it’s PSG playing catch-up and is fully capable of doing so with Katoto and the always lively Tabitha Chawinga up front. PSG has been runner-up twice but has never won the tournament. 

Lyon is looking for its record-extending ninth title. It has dumped heartache on its French rivals plenty of times in the past — beating PSG in the 2017 final — on penalties — and three other times in the semifinals. PSG’s latest Women’s Champions League success against Lyon was in the 2020-21 quarterfinals.

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