Missing Oshoala: Toothless Barcelona lose Champions League semifinal first leg against resolute Chelsea

Barcelona lost the first leg of their UEFA Women's Champions League semifinal against Chelsea | Imago

Missing Oshoala: Toothless Barcelona lose Champions League semifinal first leg against resolute Chelsea

Ayoola Kelechi 14:57 - 20.04.2024

Barcelona were unable to convert several chances, as they put one leg out of the UEFA Women's Champions League semifinal following their first-leg loss to Chelsea

Chelsea emerged victorious with a 1-0 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their Women’s Champions League semi-final in a tightly contested encounter at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, showcasing a defensive masterclass to stifle the Blaugrana's attack.

The clash between the two European giants reignited the recent rivalry between Chelsea and Barcelona, with memories of past encounters lingering in the air. Barcelona, who had triumphed 4-0 over Chelsea in the 2021 final, sought to maintain their dominance, while the Blues aimed to exact revenge for last year's semifinal defeat.

How it happened

Barcelona started brightly, probing the Chelsea defense with Selma Paralluelo and Caroline Graham Hansen both testing the opposition's goalkeeper. However, the absence of Nigerian striker Asisat Oshoala, who was sold to Bay FC in the winter transfer window, was keenly felt as the Blaugrana lacked a clinical edge in the final third, squandering several promising opportunities.

Against the run of play, it was Chelsea who broke the deadlock just before halftime, as Erin Cuthbert unleashed a spectacular strike from the edge of the area, leaving the Barcelona goalkeeper helpless.

var widgetLoaderConfig = widgetLoaderConfig || { CDN_URL: 'https://widgets.sportal365.com', APP_LINK: 'desktop', API_URL: 'https://africa.football.api.sportal365.com/', API_KEY: '2f852b4de2f3a5cf3188e74b33087bb4:2c18422f8e826a7d11aeed52edb2449e', LANG: 'en', REQUEST_INTERVAL: 30, ENABLE_BET_SLIP: false, AUTHOR: false, THEME: "light", TOURNAMENT_ORDER: "pulse_nigeria", LINK_OPTIONS_V2: { 'player' : { 'url': '/football/player/{playerId}' }, 'team' : { 'url': '/football/{teamId}' }, 'tournament': { 'url': '/football/competition/{tournamentId}' }, 'match': { 'url' : '/football/match/{matchId}', 'sort': { 'criteria': 'alphabetically', 'direction': 'asc' } }, 'configuration': { 'newWindow': false }, 'standings_tournament': { 'url': '/football/competition/{tournamentId}/standings' } } }; if (!document.querySelector('script[src="https://widgets.sportal365.com/loader.bundle.min.js"]')) { window.setTimeout(function () { let scriptCss = document.createElement('link'); scriptCss.href = 'https://www.pulsesports.ng/css/sport-widgets.css?v=1668785443'; scriptCss.rel = 'stylesheet'; scriptCss.type = 'text/css'; document.body.appendChild(scriptCss); let scriptTag = document.createElement('script'); scriptTag.src = 'https://widgets.sportal365.com/loader.bundle.min.js'; scriptTag.defer = true; scriptTag.onload = function () { window.setTimeout(function () { new SMPWidgetsLoader(widgetLoaderConfig); }, 200); }; document.head.appendChild(scriptTag); }, 0); } else { new SMPWidgetsLoader(widgetLoaderConfig); }

The second half saw Barcelona pressing for an equalizer, with an initial penalty decision overturned by VAR early on. The introduction of Alexia Putellas injected fresh impetus into the hosts' attack, but despite late chances falling to Paralluelo and Putellas herself, Barcelona failed to find the back of the net.

In the dying moments of the game, Putellas had a golden opportunity to salvage a draw for Barcelona, only to see her half-volley from close range agonizingly miss the target.

Ultimately, Chelsea's resolute defense held firm, securing a crucial 1-0 victory away from home and giving them the advantage heading into the second leg.

Barcelona will rue their missed opportunities, especially in the absence of Oshoala's predatory instincts, as they face an uphill battle to overturn the deficit and book their place in the Women’s Champions League final.

Related content