KEIR RADNEDGE in CARDIFF: Olympique Lyon won a record-equalling fourth UEFA Women’s Champions League after defeating French rivals Paris Saint-Germain 7-6 on penalties following a goalless extra-time draw.
A game of few chances between two teams who knew each other too well eventually came down to a duel of the goalkeepers in the shootout. At 6-6 PSG’s Katarzyna Kiedrzynek dragged her own kick badly wide and opposite number Sara Bouhaddi then thumped home the decider.
Lyon had largely dominated possession though it was PSG, on the break, who had created the more – brief – moments of danger. Ultimately Lyon, with a far more internationally sophisticated line-up, equalled the four-titles record of FFC Frankfurt; PSG finished as runners-up for a second time.
This was a case of recent history repeating itself: PSG had lost out on penalties to Lyon in the French cup final. Defeat, since they finished third in the French league, was extra painful because it meant they will not be back in European competition next season.
Perhaps Lyon might have finished the match off with the need of the added drama had United States star Alex Morgan been fit. She started the final after apparently having overcome the hamstring injury suffered in Lyon’s 3-0 league victory over Paris.
Appearances, however, proved deceiving. After 22 minutes she pulled up and had to be substituted by Elodie Thomis.
PSG, from the outset, put up a combative performances but the longer the first half continued the more dominant Lyon became and Amel Majri, in the 32nd minute, forced the first awkward save from PSG keeper Kiedrzynek.
The capital club immediately raced away on the break and captain Shirley Cruz Trana was unlucky to see her shot finger-tipped away by Sarah Bouhaddi. Her defensive colleagues completed the clearance. Thus the pattern for the evening was set.
Excellent work on the right just on halftime by Cruz Trana and Ashley Lawrence opened up the Lyon defence for a moment but Cristiane, under pressure, skied her shot into the crowd.
Lyon’s increasing frustration showed in the 58th minute when Ada Hegerberg, the newly-elected BBC Women’s Player of the Year, was replaced by Pauline Bremer. Hegerberg had begun the match in feisty mood but faded after having been ill before the match.
Delle missed the best chance so far in the 62nd minute when she rolled the ball inches wide of goal on a perfectly judged chip forward by the tiring Costa Rican, Cruz Trana.
And so to extra time . . . and then penalties.
Lyon: Bouhaddi – M’Bock Bathy, Buchanan, Renard, Majri – Kulmagai – Le Sommer, Abily, Marozsan, Morgan (Thomis 22; Lavogez 106) – Hegerberg (Bremer 58).
PSG: Kiedrzynek – Delannoy, Geyoro, Paredes – Cruz Trana (Georges 79) – Lawrence, Diallo (Boquete 56), Formiga, Perriset (Morroni 90) – Delle, Cristiane,
Referee: Steinhaus (Ger).