Barça will play in the final of the women's Champions League for the second time (2-1)
The blaugranas knew how to suffer against a combative PSG side and booked their place in the final in Göteborg, where they will face Chelsea.
BarcelonaNobody said it would be easy, but Barça are already in the Champions League final. With the warmth of their fans, Lluís Cortés' team have suffered to seal their passage to their second European final in their history. Two goals from Lieke Martens validated the draw in Paris (1-1) and the good team play has taken the blaugranas to the final on 16 May where they will meet Chelsea, after the English team came from behind against Bayern Munich.
The statement of intent from both teams was clear from the first moments. Barça wanted to impose their game and get the ball while PSG focused on reducing errors in transitions and taking advantage of counter-attacks. For the first fifteen minutes this was the case. The ball was in the possession of the blaugranas and the chances came and went in front of Chilean goalkeeper Endler's goal. The blaugrana's insistence was rewarded. Leila, with a long pass from the same field, set up Lieke Martens. The Dutchwoman made no mistake after getting into the box and with a powerful shot she opened the scoring. The few less than a thousand fans present in the Johan Cruyff stadium erupted. The 1-0 lead brought the eagerly awaited European final a little closer. In the eighth minute of the first half, hopes were sky high.
After Martens' goal, Barça grew in confidence. With PSG out of position on the pitch, Lluís Cortés' side took the opportunity to pause the game and calmly manage the tempo. Graham Hansen was the catalyst for the blaugranas' football, as always. And with their runs into the box, Martens and Hermoso were the tormentors of the PSG defence.
In the first fifteen minutes of the match, Olivier Echouafni's team changed their mindset. The Parisians said enough was enough and got their hands on the ball. With a suffocating pressure, Barça's ball flow was neither fluid nor comfortable, and the French side took advantage of this. Despite their lack of success, the visitors tried to bring the score back to level terms, but Alexia, after a recovery in the centre circle, changed their plans. Graham Hansen was in charge of controlling the Mollet midfielder's long pass and, after dribbling through the defence, found the only space through which the ball could pass. Again, Lieke Martens, this time from close range, made no mistake. The Dutchwoman once again brought a smile to the faces of the Culés, who could already see that the second final in the team's history was close at hand. But there was still work to be done.
Almost immediately afterwards, PSG found the net from a cross from the corner of the pitch. The Barça defence failed to deal with a corner and Katoto did not miss the chance to close the gap. The ball bounced off five of the home side's players, but none of them were able to get a clear shot away: the French striker took advantage of the gap in the Barça defence and the score was 2-1. Despite the physical effort in the final minutes of the first half, the score remained unchanged before the players headed for the dressing rooms. Only with a win could Barça be in the final.
Barça knew how to suffer until the very last moment
The second half started, once again, with PSG showing a convincing superiority. With strength and determination, Echouafni's side had two clear-cut chances that the Catalan defence were able to deny them. Unfortunately, as usual, the referee was once again in the spotlight when she failed to see how Endler had brought down Alexia inside the area. Seeing the permissiveness when it came to punishing hard hits and wrong decisions, Lluís Cortés was biting his nails as he complained to the fourth official.
Barça were not comfortable and Paños had to appear more than usual. In the 58th minute she saved the key play of the game. The goalkeeper was a giant against Bachman and managed to stop the French team's most dangerous chance. After this moment, Barça tried to turn the game around. With direct play and clear ideas, Alexia and Aitana took control of the game and, with the help of Graham Hansen's arrivals, the home side were more convincing. Hermoso had a chance to make it 3-1 after a corner. From the cross, brought down by Marta Torrejón, the Madrid striker managed to put it inside the six-yard box but it hit the post and was blocked by the visitors' defence.
The introduction of Oshoala and Mariona gave the blaugranas some breathing space. The Mallorcan recovered the ball in a tricky move and was able to get in alone in front of Endler. Lawrence, however, was able to take the ball away from her at the last minute to keep out the shot.
The last ten minutes were heart-stopping. Barça came up time and time again to get a foothold in the Parisian area. Oshoala missed the last one in normal time when, alone in front of the French goalkeeper, she didn't know where to place her shot and ended up hitting Endler's legs. The four minutes extra time took forever, especially when they started with a very dangerous free-kick, but Barça went all out.
At the official whistle, the stadium erupted. With tears in their eyes, the Culés embraced each other while the azulgranas players hugged one another. Jumping and singing. They couldn't believe it, they were in the final. With a lap of honour they thanked all those present for their warmth and support and called them to Göteborg on 16 May. Chelsea await them in the final of the Champions League. They are destined to make history.