Lucy Bronze comforts England teammate Toni Duggan after Barcelona's Champions League thrashing by Lyon

Luke Edwards
Lyon's Lucy Bronze consoles her England team-mate, Barcelona's Toni Duggan - Getty Images Europe

In the end, there was only ever likely to be one winner, yet even as Lucy Bronze celebrated Lyon’s crushing victory over Barcelona in the Champions League final she could not help but feel sorry for one of the vanquished.

Toni Duggan had left the stadium several minutes prior, one of the first Barca players to exit the dressing room, her face a mixture of anger and devastation, the eyes still wet with the tears spilled after the final whistle.

Most of Barcelona’s players had a more shell-shocked look as they emerged to board the team coach, but Duggan was furious. Her first Champions League final had been more than deflating, it bordered on torturous. Lyon had the game won inside half an hour - Ada Hegerberg scoring a 16-minute hat-trick - and toyed with the Spanish club after that.

Bronze knew it had hurt her England teammate, she would have liked to of spared her the humiliation if she could, but this is what Lyon do. All she could do was give her friend a hug.

“I just told her we would have to win the World Cup together,” said Bronze, who had a hand in two of Lyon’s goals, cementing her place among the global elite in the biggest game of the season.

Ada Hegerberg scores for Lyon Credit: getty images

“I just grabbed her after the game, she was really upset and I totally understand. She played so hard, she worked so hard and I’m devastated for her as much as I’m delighted for myself. It’s unfortunate for her, but we couldn’t both win could we.”

Both players will be crucial to England’s hopes of winning the World Cup in France and manager Phil Neville will be glad the only thing hurting is Duggan’s pride.

Lyon, though, are likely to cause plenty more pain and suffering in the future. This was their fourth successive Champions League triumph to go with their 13 French titles in a row and there is not a more dominant team anywhere in the world.

“Apparently there isn’t a better team, with a better record, in any sport,” Bronze added with a laugh. “The success speaks for itself and the team are still hungry for more.

Lyon celebrate with the trophy Credit: getty images

“The President spoke after the game, he’s already thinking about next season, how we can get even better, who we can add, what we can improve on to add to this dynasty.

“I don’t have sympathy for the rest, I think it pushes them even harder. Look at how far Barcelona have come, look at the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in England.”

Barcelona have certainly improved, but while Duggan’s move to the Catalan club captured the imagination in 2017, Bronze knew she was joining the best club in Europe when she left that same summer.

Barca will have to regroup, but, on this evidence, Chelsea - who lost narrowly to Lyon in the semi-final - Manchester City and Arsenal are the closest Lyon have to continental competition.

“I wanted to come here and win, I didn’t just want to be part of the occasion,” said Duggan, whose willingness to speak after such a bruising defeat shames many in the men’s game who refuse, even after a victory.

“I don’t feel like it at the moment, but I’m sure we will look back and be proud of the fact we got here, but... I don’t know whether it was nerves, but we didn’t play like we normally do, that half-an-hour spell in the first half.

“Lyon are a fantastic side, they have that experience, some of their players were in their sixth Champions League final, that’s the difference but we only started to play like we know we can when we were 4-0 down.

“I’ve got to pick myself up, it’s a quick turn around as I meet up with the [England] girls on Wednesday. If anything, this experience will make me even more determined to do well at the World Cup.”