Barcelona deliver masterclass to claim Women's Champions League crown
Catalan side shred Chelsea with 4 goals in 1st half to claim European title
Barcelona's slow start two years ago doomed its European dream so this time it came out firing against Chelsea, scoring after just 32 seconds en route to a 4-0 victory and its first Women's Champions League title on Sunday.
In a ruthless offensive display, Barcelona's attackers sliced through Chelsea's defense and did all of their scoring inside 36 minutes, beginning with an own-goal.
Barca is the first team from Spain to win Europe's top club competition, which had been dominated recently by seven-time champions Lyon.
In its only other appearance in the final, Barcelona lost 4-1 to Lyon in 2019 after conceding a goal after five minutes and falling behind 4-0 before halftime in Budapest.
WATCH | Barcelona wins Women's Champions League:
"The idea is to keep dominating European football," Barcelona coach Lluis Cortes said. "Winning this game is part of the journey and losing in Budapest was part of it, too."
Making its first appearance in the final, Chelsea was under pressure immediately and went down 1-0 when a clearance ricocheted off Chelsea midfielder Melanie Leupolz and over goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger into the net.
Alexia Putellas scored from the penalty spot in the 14th minute after Leupolz was adjudged to have fouled Jenni Hermoso in the box. Seven minutes later, Aitana Bonmati collected a pass from Putellas in front of goal, shot past Berger, and the rout was on for Cortes' side.
Lieke Martens brilliantly set up the fourth goal, dribbling down the left side and crossing to Caroline Graham Hansen, who blasted it into the net from close range in the 36th minute at an empty Gamla Ullevi stadium.
Historic Spanish victory
The 34-year-old Cortes said his side played with confidence right from the start.
"The final is to be won, and that's what we did," he said, adding that it's a victory for all of Spanish women's soccer.
The championship is also a boost for a Barcelona club that is heavily in debt and with a men's side that has stumbled lately. The club could also face sanctions for its support of the ill-fated European Super League.
Chelsea was the first English team to reach the final since 2007, when Arsenal won the competition.
"We didn't have the start to the game that we wanted and in these types of games against these opponents, you can't concede sloppy goals," Chelsea defender Millie Bright told BT Sport.
Canada's Fleming doesn't feature
Canadian international Jessie Fleming, who joined Chelsea earlier in the year, didn't feature in the final. However, the 23-year-old native of London Ont., has been turning heads with her stellar play in midfield.
Had Chease won, Fleming would have have joined Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich in 2020) and Kadeisha Buchanan (Olympique Lyon from 2017 to 2020) as the only other Canadian to win Europe's most prestigious club prize.
The loss ended Chelsea's bid to match Arsenal's quadruple from 14 years ago. The Blues have won the Women's Super League title and League Cup this season and are still alive in the women's FA Cup.
Chelsea threatened after the own-goal when Pernille Harder caught up to a cross but shot high.
Blues manager Emma Hayes cited inexperience and "naivety at times" by her side.
"Today was difficult because the game was over before it began," she said. "To concede so early and then we had two good chances, then they got the second through a penalty. The damage was done."
The Blues started the second half with more urgency but barely threatened.
This campaign, Barcelona eliminated Manchester City in the quarterfinals and Paris Saint-Germain in the semis. PSG had earlier beaten Lyon.