Chelsea 0-2 (1-2 agg) Barcelona: Hayes to end Chelsea tenure without UWCL trophy after Stamford Bridge defeat

Emma Hayes’ impressive Chelsea tenure will conclude without a UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy, after Barcelona were able to overturn the first-leg deficit by recording a comfortable win in front of 39,398 fans at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Aitana Bonmatí levelled the aggregate scoreline in the first half, and when Kadeisha Buchanan was shown red for a second bookable offence just before the hour mark, it became clear that the Blues had been dealt an insurmountable challenge.

Fridolina Rolfö fired the visitors into the lead for the first time from the penalty spot with fifteen minutes remaining, ensuring that it’s Barcelona who will face either Paris Saint-Germain or Olympique Lyonnais in Bilbao on May 25.

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As it happened

Suggestions that Chelsea would sit deep and defend from the very start of Saturday’s clash in SW6 were quashed within seconds of kickoff, with the Blues signalling their intent early on as they pushed to double their aggregate advantage. It looked as though Barcelona would be left to rue an early chance sent waywards by Patri Guijarro, with Ashley Lawrence proving to be the brightest spark of the opening quarter-hour.

But with a little over twenty minutes played at a sold-out Stamford Bridge, Hannah Hampton was put to work – smothering a low driven effort from Caroline Graham Hansen at her near post as Barcelona looked to demonstrate their remarkable attacking prowess.

They’d do just that moments later, with Aitana Bonmatí taking advantage of a fortuitous deflection off Kadeisha Buchanan to level the aggregate scoreline. Jinking past Niamh Charles, the Ballon d’Or winner saw her strike ricochet off the calf of Buchanan – catching Hampton off-guard as the sizeable away contingent burst into raptures.

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Chelsea perhaps should have restored their advantage though, with the home crowd left stunned when Melanie Leupolz could only pick out the crossbar from six yards out. Emma Hayes’ side were keen not to let Barça gain a foothold on the match though; Catarina Mácario’s stunning half-volleyed effort forced a remarkable save from Cata Coll with ten minutes remaining before the break.

But Chelsea’s pursuit of the lead would be dealt a killer blow on the hour mark. Just seconds after Nüsken struck the outside of the post, Emma Hayes’ side were reduced to ten when Buchanan picked up her second yellow card of the evening for a reckless challenge on Patri in the centre of the park.

The defender’s dismissal would bring about enforced structural change for Chelsea, with Nüsken adopting a position in the back line. It prompted a spell of Catalan dominance in SW6, with Salma Paralluelo unlucky not to fire the Blaugrana into the lead before Ona Batlle forced a low save from Hampton

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But Jonatan Giráldez’s side would find their long-awaited breakthrough with fifteen minutes left on the matchday clock. A collision inside the penalty area saw Jess Carter adjudged to have fouled Bonmatí, and after a relatively lengthy VAR check, Fridalina Rolfö was able to pick out the bottom-left corner and send Hampton the wrong way.

Chelsea would be left furious inside six minutes of stoppage time when Bonmatí forced a stoppage in play to permit her late withdrawal, with Alexia Putellas coming on to replace the first goalscorer for the dying stages of the match.

But as Iuliana Demetrescu’s final whistle rang out around Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s hopes of a late comeback lay in tatters, as did Emma Hayes’ dreams of adding the UEFA Women’s Champions League to the trophy cabinet in SW6 before her summer departure.

Instead, it is Barcelona that will compete in their second successive UEFA Women’s Champions League final when they face Paris Saint-Germain or Olympique Lyonnais in Bilbao on May 25.

Post-match reactions

The lineups

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

BAR: Coll; Batlle, Engen, Paredes, Bronze; Patri, Walsh, Aitana; Rolfö, Paralluelo, Graham