Barcelona’s defence of their UEFA Women’s Champions League title commenced on Tuesday, as they welcomed a buoyant Benfica side to the Estadí Johan Cruyff. Jonatan Giráldez named a strong starting eleven, with Ingrid Engen deputising at centre-back alongside Mapi León.
BAR: Coll; Batlle, León, Engen, Torrejón; Caldentey, Walsh, Bonmatí; Brugts, Putellas, Graham Hansen
BEN: Pauels; Falcón, Amado, Seiça, Araújo, Alves; Faria, Gasper, Alidou; Nazareth, Silva
Absent from the Blaugrana’s matchday squads for the majority of the last season as a result of her anterior cruciate ligament injury, Alexia Putellas marked her return to the UEFA Women’s Champions League with a stunning first-half brace on Tuesday.
Nodding home Caroline Graham Hansen’s deflected shot after fifteen minutes, the Catalan midfielder bagged her second of the evening on the 39th minute mark – perhaps stealing the credits for Esmee Brugts’ headed effort as she poked it over the line from close range.
Aitana Bonmatí wanted in on the goalscoring action too though, and just weeks after being crowned as the latest recipient of the Ballon d’Or Féménin, she got the better of her defender before picking out the back of the net with a remarkably emphatic finish.Embed from Getty Images
The goalscoring rout continued in the second half despite Putellas’ withdrawal, with Bonmatí completing her brace less than ten minutes into the final period as she was afforded just enough space to squeeze an effort into the far corner.
But the best strike of the evening came courtesy of Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala, who added Barcelona’s fifth goal just seconds after her introduction from the bench. With her first touch of the evening, she rose to meet Graham Hansen’s cross into the penalty area – flicking a bicycle kick past a despairing Lena Pauels.
It’s a result that will undoubtedly fill the Blaugrana with confidence ahead of the upcoming el Clasico this weekend, as they host Real Madrid at the Estadi Olímpic. They’ll not have too much time to dwell on that result though, as they travel to Eintracht Frankfurt next week to dispute yet another European clash.