UEFA Women’s Champions League Final: VfL Wolfsburg 1-4 Olympique Lyonnais

Extra time brings about goal-fest

UEFA Women’s Champions League Final: VfL Wolfsburg 1-4 Olympique Lyonnais
(photo: Getty Images / David Ramos)
VfL Wolfsburg
1 4
Olympique Lyonnais
VfL Wolfsburg: Schult, Maritz, Goeßling, Fischer (c), Blässe, Popp, Gunnarsdóttir (Wedemeyer, min. 56), Dickenmann (Kerschowski, min. 89), Harder, Pajor, Graham Hansen (Wullaert, min. 46)
Olympique Lyonnais: Bouhaddi, Bacha (Cascarino, min. 64), Renard, M’Bock Bathy, Bronze, Henry, Kumagai (van de Sanden, min. 95), Majri, Le Sommer (Abily, min. 113), Hegerberg, Marozsán.
SCORE: 1-0, min. 93, Harder. 1-1, min. 98, Henry. 1-2, min. 100, Le Sommer. 1-3, min. 103, Hegerberg. 1-4, min. 116, Abily.
REFEREE: Jana Adamkova (CZE) booked Bacha (min. 61), Popp (min. 72), Dickenmann (min. 80), Popp (min. 96), Renard (min. 106)
INCIDENTS: UEFA Women’s Champions League final between VfL Wolfsburg and Olympique Lyonnais held at the Valeriy Lobanovski Stadium (Dynamo Kyiv), Ukraine. 14,237 spectators.

After a scoreless 90 minutes, extra time sparked the two sides to life with the Wolfsburg lead lasting just five minutes before the goals began to rain in for Lyon as the French superpower claimed their fifth UEFA Women's Champions League final win.

Intent

A loose foul on Griedge M’Bock saw the first real chance of the game five minutes in, Dzsenifer Marozsán’s ball dinked in, a sudden game of ping-ball in the box as Amandine Henry saw her effort bounce clear. Finally able to ease some of the pressure, Wolfsburg worked up the pitch, a throw-in soon countered, before the ball was sent back and flashed across, millimetres ahead of Ewa Pajor, the game finding an early rhythm.

From one end to the other in a flash, both teams wanted the first goal, chances and half chances beginning to present themselves, a steaming run from Eugénie Le Sommer followed by a teasing ball cleared for the next German attack. Both sides got forward in numbers, slipping the ball between pairs of feet, slick passing moves covering the pitch, defences holding with teams hungry. A corner swung towards the far post by Marozsán saw another good chance for the holders, Lucy Bronze’s hopeful effort from range lifting over the bar, the deadlock guaranteed not to last.

With the advantage in the match, Lyon were having more joy against the Wolfsburg defence than visa versa, a fearless lunge from Anna Blässe denying Amel Majri the chance to pull the trigger after the attacker had dashed down the wing. Almuth Schult called into action after the corner had to be cleared to grab a hold of Marozsán’s curled effort. Though she struggled to reach corners in the opposition box, Wendie Renard rose well to meet Wolfsburg’s first corner of the match, clearing the immediate danger.  The Wolves granted a second corner two minutes later after Pernille Harder had brought the ball clear of her own half before playing in Pajor, the ball cleared behind by the retreating Lyon defence.

Lyon continue to dictate

Slick feet from Majri saw her leave Blasse behind, her ball swung in parried by Schult before it found its way back into the box, Ada Hegerberg’s diving header claimed by the shot-stopper. After the rip-roaring start, the game relaxed as it neared the interval, both sides measured in their approach play. Another shot from Lyon punctuating the 42 minute, the ball sent long for Le Sommer as she slipped behind, stretching for it, she could only fire a tame effort at the German number one.

The match fractured itself at half time, the restart finding both teams with heavy legs and a disconcerting lack of attacking flow. Wolfsburg saw a little more of the ball after the break, but the numbers that flocked forward found no clear passage through, the Lyon defence mean and steadfast. An injury to Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir left the Wolves reaching to their bench for the second time, the enforced change certainly not in the original script, the German champions looking for more than just Plan B in Kyiv.

Despite the set-back, the Wolves came forward again, a deft ball floated in put behind for another corner, Lara Dickenmann’s first ball still lacking though her recycled effort saw Alex Popp meet the ball at the far stick. Having pulled Sarah Bouhaddi out, the attacker failed to get the right purchase on the ball, ending up under it and putting her header well over before Lyon swiftly countered. The chances still rising in the match as Le Sommer once again tested Schult, the ball again a weak one but the Wolfsburg defence still showing its weaknesses. Doing more with their corners, Les Fenottes saw another chance go begging when M’Bock sent her header over the bar, the game still without a goal after the hour.

 

Controversy

Warming back into the game, Bronze seized on a weak pass, driving forward before slipping Hegerberg through, a last-ditch slide from Popp all to deny the Norwegian. The match firing up at both ends as a perfectly timed nick from Saki Kumagi saw Dickenmann denied yards out. Suddenly a frenzy of activity, the French champions agonisingly close to taking the lead when Amandine Henry saw her header hooked off of the line, though slow-motion replays argued it had crossed.

Lyon found their groove once more and looked to find a goal that would stand, the Wolves still coming up short-handed when they got forward, the sturdy French defence not to be broken.

A sweetly hit ball across from substitute Delphine Cascarino skipped through to Le Sommer as she arrived by the back post, Schult’s dive all to deny the French international. The match still painfully unsettled, a chance for Wolfsburg in stoppage time sent in by Lena Goeßling bringing about an almighty clash and Bronze and Bouhaddi collided in mid-air, the match drawing itself out further with the draw. Still locked after 90 minutes, the weary teams took back to the pitch for the first fifteen minutes of extra time. 

Goals galore

With Lyon still looking fresh at the start of extra time, stroking the ball around with ease, the French side left shocked when against the odds Wolfsburg took the lead when Harder’s effort slipped off of Renard’s shin and nestled in the bottom corner. The match finally mining some drama when moments later Popp was shown a second yellow and substitute Shanice van de Sanden pulled a strong save out of Schult.

The man advantage telling instantly as Henry powered her way through and took the ball off of Joelle Wedemeyer’s toe, lashing it past Schult. The parity lasting just second before the current champions took the lead, van de Sanden’s ball across connected with by Le Sommer two yards out, the touch enough to slip it under Schult. Two fast became three, the Wolfsburg defence left high up the pitch as they looked for an equaliser, the ball sent long by the Lyon defence with van de Sanden giving chance, her cross in volleyed into the top left corner by Hegerberg.

The second period of second started in a more subdued manner, Wolfsburg having reset well but back to the football equivalent of trying to bale out a sinking ship with a teaspoon, the Lyon defence giving nothing up. Sinking back, with nothing left in the tank the next job was for the Germans to stop their opposition from finding a fourth, the two sides seeming worlds apart as the game rolled into the dying minutes.

Able to save his substitutions, Reynald Pedros used his third and final one up late in the day, giving veteran Camille Abily a Champions League run-out one last time. The decorated Frenchwoman needing just three minutes to add another for Lyon, her deliciously struck curler simply too much for Schult as the two drifted further apart on the scoresheet. Weak efforts from Abily and Pajor the last notable incidences before the referee finally brought an end to proceedings.