UWCL: Barcelona defend European title with Alexia and Bonmati goals

Alexia Putellas lifts the UEFA Women's Champions League Trophy with Barcelona teammates
Alexia Putellas lifts the UEFA Women's Champions League Trophy after her team's victory in the Final vs Olympique Lyonnais at San Mames Stadium (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Barcelona have claimed the European title for the second consecutive year after beating Olympique Lyonnais in San Mamés, Bilbao. The Blaugrana defended their 2023 title with a 2-0 win over the eight-time record holders of the UEFA Women’s Champions League honour.

A total of 50,827 people supporters travelled to the Basque Country to witness the UWCL final at the San Mamés Stadium. More than 40,000 Barcelona fans, about 5,000 from Lyon, and a number of neutrals packed out the ground on Saturday evening.

The occasion marked the last UWCL final for both managers, Jonatan Giráldez and Sonia Bompastor.

First minutes, the key of the match

Lyon started with high pressure and Irene Paredes fell into the firing line of their efforts. Meanwhile, Barcelona’s angle was to use Caroline Graham Hansen on the right as their weapon to attack with.

The French team were pushing in attack in attempt to reach Cata Coll’s goal, trying to make the Catalans remember the 2019 and 2022 finals. But Giráldez’s team has evolved and they are now mentally stronger than ever.

It was said that the first minutes would be the most important, as OL have scored a number of goals during the opening minutes of fixtures. Coll was key to avoiding that, although she was more nervous than usual. The Balearic goalkeeper caught balls that could have ended inside the goal. As always, Wendie Renard was a threat waiting for every single corner.

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Lyon had the clearest opportunities in the first half, but Barça got the control of the ball more than their rivals. Not enough to be able to intimidate Lyon that much, though.

Same script, different effectiveness

The second half started with the same feel — equal opportunities, a tough game in the midfield, but not really clear in the boxes. It broke at a time when Barça tried to use Salma Bacha, the athlete, running straight away. It didn’t really work, so they realised their need to switch up the game-plan.

Lindsay Horan distributed the ball with her usual elegance, trying connections with Kadidiatou Diani, Delphine Cascarino and Melchie Dumornay. But Paredes, Keira Walsh, and even Mariona Caldentey — who could have played the last final as a ‘culer’ before travelling to the UK — stopped these passes.

Once Barça got the ball, they started to build. And Aitana Bonmatí did what she does best. The Ballon d’Or winner snatched the ball from Mariona and charged towards goal. She had two options — passing into the box or trying a shot. With all her confidence, she chose the second option. With a left-footed shot, Bonmatí hooked the ball over the centre-back and Christiane Endler in goal.

Another title for Barcelona

It was the first time in history that Barcelona found themselves in an advantage against OL. That was the turning point for the eight-time Champions League winners to bring Ada Hegerberg on.

With Coll and Batlle lying on the ground for a few minutes, the referees to added six minutes of stoppage time. The drama truly unfolded in the final minutes as every single player was trying to force an equaliser or extend the lead.

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But who other than Alexia Putellas to put the game to bed? The Queen of Barcelona came onto the pitch and scored her side’s second goal, to confirm the title against a team they had feared. She jumped onto the pitch in the 95th minute and it took just one to receive a ball from Clàudia Pina on the left side of the penalty spot and shoot the ball directly inside the goal.

It was a really tough game for both teams, one that was defined by details, as expected.

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