Sam Marsden3 Minute Read
Barcelona recovered from two goals down as they beat VfL Wolfsburg 3-2 to win the UEFA Women’s Champions League on Saturday in a thrilling final at the Philips Stadion in Eindhoven.
Fridolina Rolfo struck the winner in the 70th minute after Patri Guijarro had scored twice in two minutes at the start of the second half as Barca fought back to claim the trophy for the second time in three years.
Goals from Ewa Pajor and Alexandra Popp had given two-time winners Wolfsburg a comfortable lead going into half-time, but the German side collapsed after the break as Barca ramped up the pressure.
Barca were appearing in their fourth final in the last five years and the manner of their comeback will give way to arguments that they are now the dominant team in European football.
Lyon will rightly contest that, though. They have won six of the last eight Champions Leagues and have never lost in the competition to Barca, who they beat in the 2019 and 2022 finals.
However, Jonatan Giraldez’s side are here to stay. They won a fourth straight Liga F title in Spain, too, and recently saw a 64-game unbeaten streak in the league ended.
Wolfsburg’s season, meanwhile, ends in disappointment. They also missed out on the Frauen-Bundesliga, pipped to top spot by Bayern Munich, although they did win the DFB-Pokal Frauen.
“I am so emotional … I never thought this would happent,” Rolfo said postmatch. “At 2-0, at the beginning, I thought we can do it. It was really hard, but we showed so much mentality today and I am so proud of the team.”
Barca, who beat Wolfsburg 5-3 on aggregate in last year’s semifinal, were favourites going into the game but produced a first half performance which brought back memories of last year’s final defeat to Lyon, when they trailed 3-0 after 33 minutes.
It took just three minutes for Wolfsburg to open the scoring. Lucy Bronze was caught on the ball by Poland forward Pajor, who smashed home her ninth goal in this season’s competition from the edge of the box.
Irene Paredes and Caroline Graham Hansen both missed great chances to level before Barca were once again caught out at the back. Popp outmuscled Mapi Leon to find space in the box and head home Pajor’s cross in the 37th minute, scoring in her fourth Champions League final.
Salma Paralluelo almost pulled one back before half-time, but she was denied by a fine save by Merle Frohms. Frohms could not come to Wolfsburg’s rescue in the second half, though, as they buckled under intense pressure in the first five minutes after the break.
Graham Hansen did brilliantly to set up Guijarro to turn home in the 48th minute and, two minutes later, the midfielder added her second goal of the game, heading in an Aitana Bonmati cross.
Barca took control of the ball from there, but Wolfsburg remained a threat on the break. Pajor twice drew saves from Sandra Panos.
The Spanish champions always looked the more likely to go on and win the game, though, and that proved the case when Sweden international Rolfo took advantage of some hesitant defending to rifle home against her former side with 20 minutes to play and settle the final.
Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who only recently returned from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, came off the bench late on to help Barca see out seven minutes of stoppage time to spark celebrations among the more than 10,000 Blaugrana supporters in Eindhoven.
“I think this game had every emotion you could possibly have,” Graham Hansen said. “From two goals down, then we score two quick goals and then you have to wait… but champions again. I am so happy.
“At half-time, 2-0 down, I had a big flashback from the last final, and it was like, it’s not going to happen again. We go out there and turn the game around and win it.”