Hegerberg stars as Lyon crush Barcelona to win Women’s Champions League

Suzanne Wrack at Ferencváros Stadion


People will bemoan the gulf in class. This was supposed to be competitive football at the top level. But Lyon’s one-sided mauling of Barcelona is not something to be criticised, but should instead be celebrated as a testament to investment, to equality. Club president Jean-Michel Aulas’s long-term project is paying dividends and then some.

An emotional early opener from the Budapest-born Dzsenifer Marozsán, who was warmly cheers by the crowd on announcement in the starting XI, followed by a stunning 17-minute hat-trick from Ada Hegerberg put the French champions in the driving seat by the half-hour mark.

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Asisat Oshoala’s late strike was not enough to launch a comeback of the scale we have become accustomed to in recent weeks.

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Lyon looked every bit worthy of their fourth consecutive Champions League title from the off. Tall, strong and athletic with Barcelona looking decidedly lightweight in comparison. Their project well and truly confirmed to be still very much in its infancy by a ruthless Lyon.

It took five minutes for Lyon to take the lead. Shanice van de Sanden, who provided three assists off the bench in extra time last year, used her electric pace to race clear of Leila Ouahabi and whipped a cross towards an incoming Marozsán who powered home in front of her home crowd, punching her chest at the emotion of it all.

Barcelona were lucky not to be two down in two minutes, Hegerberg playing a one-two with Majri whose shot was kept out by Sandra Paños. Van de Sanden powered a header goalward on the rebound but Ouahabi headed it off the line and away.

On 14 minutes, Van de Sanden, fed by the England right-back Lucy Bronze, again left Ouahabi trailing and played an almost identical pass from the right, but this time it was Hegerberg’s turn, coolly slotting under Paños.

Five minutes later and it was three. Amel Majri skipping into the box from the left and slipping the ball to Hegerberg who hooked in with her left foot.

A very rare Barça break saw Mariona beat Majri to swing a cross into the box but it was just behind Toni Duggan, then Lieke Martens.

If this was Martens’s audition to entice an approach from her opponents as the buildup had suggested, it was hard to see why they would bother.

On the half-hour mark, Hegerberg notched her hat-trick and confirmed she would finished the competition’s top scorer for the second consecutive season.

Bronze this time was the provider, sending a pinpoint cross in for the Norwegian to turn home.

Barcelona had not conceded in the competition since September. On the rare occasions they found themselves in the opposition third they were hesitant, dazed and unsure in the pass. A team known for dominating possession looked utterly lost with it.

When the two sides met in last season’s quarter final it was much tighter. A 2-1 home with for Lyon was followed by a 1-0 win at the Miniestadi.

But now Barcelona’s easier route to the final – Cypriot side Barcelona FA, Glasgow City, LSK Kvinner, Bayern Munich – was exposed. This match left Lyon’s quarter-final against last years runners-up Wolfsburg and a tough physical match-up with Chelsea in their semi-final looking like a closer test.

After 68 minutes, and urged on by a sympathetic crowd, Barça had their best chance of the game. Aitana Bonmatí squared to Vicky Losada whose cross was flicked on my Alexia Putellas. The ball landed cleanly at the feet of Martens but she slipped her half-volley painfully wide of the near post from six yards.

With Lyon more settled, perhaps feeling safe with their four-goal cushion, Barcelona pushed for something, anything. With 15 minutes left Losada caught out the usually immaculately disciplined Lyon backline but her lofted ball over Sarah Bouhaddi looped on to the roof of the net.

Lyon, though casual in their pressure now, still threatened. The French striker Eugénie Le Sommer curled a shot into Paños’s arms and then forced her to palm another effort away within the space of two minutes before being pulled off for left-back Selma Bacha to enter the fray.

As the clock ticked down, Barcelona got their consolation and restored a fraction of pride. Played through the middle by Martens, Oshoala took one touch to take the ball round Bouhaddi before sliding home.