Barcelona 0-1 Chelsea: Barça suffer first home defeat in five years as Blues seize first leg advantage

Barcelona fell to their first competitive home defeat since February 2019 on Saturday, as Emma Hayes’ Chelsea clinched a slender one-goal lead that hands them the upper hand in the semifinals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

With the Spotify Camp Nou undergoing extensive renovation, the first leg of this enthralling matchup was held at the Estadi Olïmpic Lluis Companys – and a bumper crowd made themselves known throughout.

The Blaugrana were far from their best, and it was Erin Cuthbert’s strike just before the interval that sees the Blues head home with the advantage ahead of next Saturday’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.

As it happened

An enthralling tactical battle from the very start of this lunchtime kickoff in Catalunya, Emma Hayes’ decision to utilise a three centre-back formation worked just as she would have hoped.

The hosts were frustrated, and it was Erin Cuthbert that took full advantage with five minutes remaining before the half-time break. Set up by Sjoeke Nüsken inside the area, the captain smashed past Cata Coll to ensure Chelsea had something to show for their early promise.

Embed from Getty Images

Barcelona could – and perhaps should – have drawn level though. Jonatan Giráldez’s side thought they’d been awarded a penalty as Kadeisha Buchanan handled the ball inside the box – but VAR spared the Canadian’s blushes, with Salma Paralluelo deemed to be offside and interfering with play.

But perhaps the hosts’ best chance of all came inside stoppage time, with just seconds remaining on the clock. Alexia Putellas, twice the recipient of the Ballon d’Or, blazed her effort wide of the woodwork from close range – falling to her knees as the magnitude of the miss sunk in.

It is far from over for Barcelona though. The Blaugrana will be keen to make amends for a remarkably rare off day when they head to SW6 next weekend, with tickets still remaining on sale for the decisive second leg.

The lineups

BAR: Coll; Rolfö, Engen, Paredes, Batlle; Guijarro, Walsh, Bonmatí; Caldentey, Paralluelo, Graham Hansen

CHE: Hampton; Charles, Buchanan, Carter; Lawrence, Nüsken, Leupolz, Cuthbert, Rytting Kaneryd; Ramírez, James