UWCL: Benfica make it hard for Lyon, Chelsea thump Ajax

Benfica's Andreia Faria celebrates with teammates after scoring against Lyon in the Champions League
Benfica's Andreia Faria celebrates after scoring during the Champions League quarter-final match vs Olympique de Lyon (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP) (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images)

The first legs of the Champions League quarter-finals got underway this week as the eight remaining teams resumed the road to Bilbao. Benfica took on European powerhouses Lyon, while Chelsea visited Ajax.

Here’s what happened in the first two matches.

Ajax 0-3 Chelsea

Chelsea took complete control of their tie with Dutch side Ajax as they swept to a comfortable win in Amsterdam. Ajax were denied an early lead when Romée Leutcher smacked the post from the edge of the box after just seven minutes. 

Chelsea took a 19th minute lead when Sjoeke Nüsken’s through ball cannoned off Kay-Lee de Sanders and then Daliyah de Klonia, into the path of Lauren James.

The Lioness managed to stay onside and round Ajax goalkeeper Regina van Eijk to slot home with the goal confirmed after a VAR check.

Guro Reiten looked to have doubled the Chelsea lead on the stroke of half-time when she poked home James’ inviting cross. Following a lengthy VAR check, however, the goal was eventually ruled out for an offside on Nüsken.

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That only seemed to anger the Blues and just moments later, the combination of Reiten and Nüsken wouldn’t be denied again. This time it was Nüsken who converted, sliding home Reiten’s cross. This one did count.

Nüsken grabbed her second and Chelsea’s third of the night with seven minutes to play when she got on the end of Catarina Macário’s cross to thump home a header.

Benfica 1-2 Lyon

Lyon will take a slender lead back to France for their second leg next week. They were made to work for it by Portuguese champions Benfica though.

Benfica, who have reached this stage for the first time in their history, nearly took an early lead when Nycole Raysla pulled the ball back for Andrea Falcón on the edge of the box.

Falcón let fly with a fierce effort that drew a fine save from Christiane Endler. The Chilean stopper tipped the ball onto the post to keep the score level.

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The hosts were rewarded for their bright start just before half-time. Andreia Faria intercepted a loose Lyon back-pass on the halfway line. She raced away and coolly slotted the ball under Endler to give her side a shock lead against eight-time winners.

It may well have been two just a couple of minutes later, but Chandra Davison opted to take the shot on rather than square for Faria, allowing Endler to save.

Delphine Cascarino restored parity for the French side in the 63rd minute. She finished from close range to cap off a fine run and cross from Ellie Carpenter. A clever back-heel from Melchie Dumornay’s ball into Cascarino’s path enabled her to finish high into the net from six yards out.

Sara Däbritz completed the Lyon comeback with just over 10 minutes left, heading home Lindsey Horan’s cross.

The second legs of these ties will be played next Wednesday. 

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