The summit clash in this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League finally came down to a decision on penalty shoot-out between Olympique Lyonnais and VfL Wolfsburg at Stadio Citta del Tricolore in Reggio Emilia, Italy. In the end, Lyons prevailed 4-3 and lifted their third Champions League trophy, besides avenging their 0-1 loss in the final against the German club in the 2013 final. After Ada Hegerberg’s 12th minute goal took Lyon 1-0 ahead, the French team enjoyed the upper hand until 2 minutes from the final whistle but an exquisite header from Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp in the nick of time forced the penalty shoot-out as no more goals could be scored from open play in the ensuing extra-time. However, the shoot-out itself was not without some drama as Wolfsburg led 2-0 and 3-2 in the showdown. Then Wolfsburg captain Nilla Fischer missed a spot kick and it was followed by another miss from Elise Bussaglia. Thus, Wolfsburg were themselves to blame for the soft loss in the end.
Ahead of the more fancied men’s final of the UEFA Champions League in Milan on Saturday, VfL Wolfsburg and Olympique Lyonnais met in the final of women’s Champions League on Thursday at Reggio Emilia 150 kilometers away from Milan. It was a repeat match between the two teams, who met in the 2013 final. As the match got underway, Wolfsburg were the first to take the ball into the Lyon goal area and earned a first-minute corner. But after that opportunity was wasted, Lyon assumed control and had several attempts on the Wolfsburg goal. Lyon’s 27-year old star Eugenie Le Sommer shot at the goal twice in 2nd and 7th minutes but she missed the target on both occasions. However, the tempo of Lyon’s attack was fructified in 12th minute, when Pauline Bremer ran brilliantly from the right and reached a point, from where she released a perfect cross for Ada Hegerberg. The Norwegian striker made no mistake in calmly applying the finish as Lyon went 1-0 up. Buoyed by the early advantage, the French Club kept up the pressure on Wolfsburg’s goal in the first half and also early in the second half, when Wolfsburg found their chances. However, they couldn’t find the much-needed equalizer. With just a couple of minutes left in the game, Wolfsburg disappointed Lyon, when Isabel Kerschowski sent a high cross, to which Alexandra Popp rose full height and her towering header found the back post. The game came alive but went to 30 minutes of extra-time.
With extra-time producing no result either, the decision came down to the penalty shoot-out. Alexandra Popp opened the scoring for Wolfsburg with a clean shot but when Lyon’s missed their chance next, hopes rose for the German Club. Sadly for Lyon, Ada Hegerberg’s shot was brilliantly saved by Wolfsburg goalkeeper Almuth Schult. Wolfsburg led 2-0 with Isabel Kerschowski converting her chance. Next three shots also found their mark, when Lotta Schelin and Wendie Renard scored for Lyon and Babett Peter converted for Wolfsburg. Now Wolfsburg led 3-2 and both sides had two chances left. The dice looked loaded in favor of Wolfsburg but their captain Nilla Fischer missed the next penalty, when her shot was saved by Lyon goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi. Lyon caught up with Wolfsburg at 3-3 with M’Bock Bathy converting her chance. The dramatic events made the result uncertain with both sides being left with one attempt each. However, Wolfsburg almost went out of reckoning, when Elise Bussaglia also missed her shot. With fortunes swinging Lyon’s way, Japanese World Cup winner Saki Kumagai took a long run and scored decisively to take her team to their third victory in the UEFA Champions League. For her solid performance in the midfield, Japanese International Kumagai also earned the distinction of being named as the Player of the match.
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