Chelsea stun Barcelona to take first-leg lead back to Stamford Bridge

By Sports Desk April 20, 2024 74

Erin Cuthbert gave Chelsea a priceless first-leg lead in their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona after inflicting a first home defeat for five years on the holders.

Cuthbert’s 40th-minute strike was enough to secure a 1-0 win at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys – Barca’s first defeat of the season – on an afternoon when the Blues produced a superb defensive display to deny the free-scoring defending champions a single shot on target.

Things might have been different, however, had referee Stephanie Frappart not been advised to review her decision to award the hosts a second-half penalty for handball to leave Emma Hayes and her players with something to defend at Stamford Bridge next Saturday.

Jess Carter and Kadeisha Buchanan had to be resilient at the heart of the Blues defence early on, although it took a well-timed intervention by Ingrid Engen to prevent Johanna Rytting Kaneryd from making the most of Cuthbert’s 10th-minute ball over the top.

Carter had to be in the right place at the right time to block Salma Paralluelo’s 16th-minute shot after a pacy break by Aitana Bonmati and Buchanan was equally alert to deny the same player after she had burst clear six minutes later.

The visitors were growing into the game with Mayra Ramirez making in-roads down the left and they got their reward five minutes before the break when Sjoeke Nusken held the ball up and then squared for Cuthbert, whose shot looped up off Engel and over keeper Catalina Coll.

But they looked to be in trouble seconds later when the referee awarded a penalty against Buchanan after she had blocked Patri Guijarro’s goal-bound effort with her arm, only for a lengthy VAR review, which showed that Paralluelo had been offside in the build-up, to come to their rescue.

Paralluelo volleyed horribly wide after being picked out at the far post by Caroline Graham Hansen and substitute Alexia Putellas missed the target with salvation beckoning with the final kick of the game.

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Last modified on Saturday, 20 April 2024 09:17
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.