Chelsea beats Barcelona 1-0 in 1st leg of Women”s Champions League semi-finals

BARCELONA (SPAIN), Apr 20: Erin Cuthbert fired Chelsea to a 1-0 win over Barcelona in the Women’s Champions League semi-final first-leg match on Saturday, handing the defending champions their first home loss in five years.

             Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas missed a glorious chance to equalize when she shot wide right from close range on the last play of the game at Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium to send Emma Hayes’ team back to Stamford Bridge with the advantage.

             The visitors stifled Barcelona’s attack, taking away the time and space the Catalan club normally enjoys in its domestic league.

             The high pressure led to Chelsea’s goal in the 40th minute when forward Mayra Ramirez forced a turnover, setting up Sjoeke Nüsken’s pass to Cuthbert, who beat a defender and fired the ball into the top right corner.

             Chelsea has never won the Women’s Champions League or its predecessor, the UEFA Women’s Cup. In its only final appearance, Hayes’ team was routed by Barcelona 4-0 in 2021.

             Barcelona, which also eliminated Chelsea last season en route to its second title, was set for a penalty after a 52nd-minute handball on Blues defender Kadeisha Buchanan. But,ut it was overturned after a video review because Salma Paralluelo was off-side.

             Barcelona is going for its third title in four years but has work to do in next Saturday’s second-leg match in London.

             Later, Paris Saint-Germain plays at eight-time champion Lyon. (PTI)