By Ella Fenwick | Sport Editor
After the outbreak of COVID-19 like many sports, the rest of the women’s football season was left on the rocks. With the UEFA Women’s Champions League postponed indefinitely back in March and the cancellation of most domestic women’s leagues, the crowning of a champion was looking very unlikely.
It was clear many clubs had felt the toll of the pandemic, and players had been left disheartened by the cliff-hanger of this unfinished season. But as they did for the men’s competition, UEFA decided to play the remaining knockout matches to the Women’s Champions League campaign.
Matches ran between the 21st and 30th of August, in an eight-team single match knockout tournament at Spanish stadiums San Mamés and the Anoeta, with all matches ensured to be held behind closed doors.
Despite the thousands of empty stadium seats, the atmosphere was far from lost as the countdown began to see who would win the Women’s Champions League title.
The quarter finals kicked off with a one goal win for Barcelona against Spanish counterparts Atlético Madrid. The match was made up of steady back and forth until the 80th minute when a cross found its way to Kheira Hamraoui in the box who swiveled and put it bottom corner to give Barcelona the lead.
Even though the first game gave an anticlimactic start to the quarter finals, it was definitely made up for in the nine goals scored by Wolfsburg wiping out Glasgow City from the running.
Before half-time Wolfsburg had shown they were in it for the win thrashing Glasgow with four goals scored by Pernille Harder and Ingrid Syrstad Engen. After half-time, Harder came back to score another grabbing herself a hat-trick. Glasgow came crawling back with a single goal from Lauren Wade, but were brought crashing back down with a further goal by Felicitas Rauch putting Wolfsburg in a six-goal lead. If a hat-trick was not enough Harder scored a final goal which was followed up by two embarrassing own goals for the Scottish team to round up the nine goals.
Next was Bayern Munich who failed to mimic the footsteps of their men’s Champions League success a week before, crashing out to competition favourites Lyon 2-1.
Closing off the quarter finals was another 2-1 scorecard with PSG booting the last British team in the competition, London side Arsenal, out thanks to goals from Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Signe Brunn.
The semi finals began with a confident Wolfsburg side facing Barcelona. It proved to be more of a test for Wolfsburg than their previous tie, not breaking the deadlock until the 58 minute mark thanks to a Fridolina Rolfö goal. From that position they proceeded to see out the rest of the game, despite a big effort from the Spanish league champions to get back into the game.
The other semi final was an all French affair, with Lyon beating domestic rivals PSG 1-0. Lyon captain Wendie Renard headed in the only goal on 66 minutes following a well delivered free kick by Amel Majri, adding further aggravation to PSG following Grace Geyoro’s sending off only a minute before. The tension continued with English striker Nikita Parris also receiving a red card after getting a second yellow for a bad foul on PSG goalkeeper Christine Endler, resulting in her not being able to feature in the final against Wolfsburg.
After four successive Champions League titles, it was time to see if the strongest French team could bring home their fifth final win in a row against Wolfsburg.
Goals were opened up by Lyon’s striker Eugénie Le Sommer in the 24th minute however the remainder of the first half was kept at a slow pace from both teams pa.
The clock was ticking and the first half was drawing to a close but not before Saki Kumagai scored an amazing goal from outside the 18 yard box, leaving Lyon at a positive advantage before half-time.
Wolfsburg came out in the second half looking more comfortable, getting one back on the 56 minute mark with a brilliant Alexandra Popp header.
This tight point difference did not last for long, when Le Sommer crossed the ball to Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir who flicked it past the unsuspecting Wolfsburg goalkeeper. Leaving the final score reading 3-1 to Lyon, establishing their title as the best team in Europe.
Once again, the French giants have proven their dominance in the Women’s Champions League winning the competition for the fifth year in a row, knocking Wolfsburg to second place for another year.
Despite the recent news of star-player Lucy Bronze leaving her career at the club behind, Lyon still boast some of the biggest names in Women’s football, and it will be exciting to see if they can continue this legacy into the future.