UWCL: Lyon and Chelsea progress to the semi-finals

Lyon's Kadidiatou Diani celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal
Lyon's Kadidiatou Diani celebrates with teammates after scoring during the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final match vs SL Benfica at The Groupama Stadium (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)

European heavyweights Olympique Lyonnais have booked their spot in another UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL) semi-finals. The French juggernauts stormed past Benfica, who reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

Chelsea join Lyon in the final four after a tight 1-1 draw with Ajax capped off an overall 4-1 aggregate win for the Women’s Super League champions.

Lyon 4-1 Benfica (6-2 agg)

Eight-time Champions League winners Lyon are through to yet another semi-final after they eventually dispatched a valiant Benfica side.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg, Lyon started well and, after six minutes, created the first chance of note of the evening. A long, raking ball forward from Sara Däbritz found Delphine Cascarino, who’d timed her run perfectly.

The French international pulled the ball back for Eugénie Le Sommer on the edge of the box. But Benfica goalkeeper Lena Pauels gathered the effort on the second attempt.

Lyon took the lead just before half-time. The goalscoring play began when Le Sommer intercepted a backpass by Laís Araújo. With Pauels stranded, Le Sommer unselfishly teed up Cascarino, who finished well from distance.

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Less than two minutes later, however, the visitors were level when Marie-Yasmine Alidou turned in Lúcia Alves’ cross home from close range. Cascarino restored the hosts’ lead on the night in stunning fashion as she skipped through challenges to rifle home from 30 yards.

Two stoppage-time goals from Kadidiatou Diani put the seal on Lyon’s progress to a 13th semi-final.

Chelsea 1-1 Ajax (4-1 agg)

A draw at Stamford Bridge was enough to see Chelsea through to the last four.

With the tie all but over following last week’s game in Amsterdam, Ajax nearly took the lead in London when some lacklustre Chelsea defending almost let in Romée Leuchter. Under pressure from Kadeisha Buchanan, the Dutch international dragged her shot just past Zećira Mušović’s far post.

On the half-hour mark, Mayra Ramírez put the Blues ahead and the contest to bed. Erin Cuthbert forced the turnover in midfield, playing the ball into Guro Reiten’s path. Reiten’s through ball for Ramírez was inch-perfect, and the Colombian calmly swept the ball home through the legs of Regina van Eijk.

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Ajax did have something to celebrate with 25 minutes left when Chastity Grant latched onto Tiny Hoekstra’s defence-splitting pass and shot home through Mušović.

The Chelsea shot-stopper more than made amends in the 80th minute when she produced a stunning finger-tip save to push Leuchter’s effort around the post.

The UWCL semi-finals await Chelsea and Emma Hayes as they chase the quadruple and a perfect sendoff for the departing manager.

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