Record crowd sees Barcelona Women beat Real Madrid in Champions League | Women’s Champions League

This was an extraordinary, historic occasion and it got a game to go with it: 91,553 people came to the Camp Nou, the biggest attendance for a women’s football match, and if this is anything to go by they will be back. In the semi-final, for a start. They haven’t had a night quite like this here for a long time, maybe ever, ending it elated. When eventually they did end it, that is: the full-time whistle went but no one wanted to go home yet.

“This is just too crazy,” Carolina Graham Hansen said. “If we are having fun, people will want to repeat it.” Oh, they were having fun, all right. Long after goals from her, Mapi León, Aitana Bonmati, Claudia Pina and Alexia Putellas had enabled Barcelona to come from 2-1 down to defeat Real Madrid 5-2 on the night, 8-3 on aggregate, to reach the Champions League semi-finals, the players were still out there and so were many of the fans who had accompanied them in breaking a record.

The lap of honour had been long; the night would be even longer. Noisy, too. “There’s nothing better than being a Barcelona fan,” this place was singing. Especially with this team. No game has had more people in it all season – and that includes the men’s clásico. No game has had more goals either, Barcelona tested but ultimately too good. The finest side in Europe delivered a performance that will never be forgotten on a stage that has never been beaten.

Right now it is possible to imagine that this team cannot be beaten either, after a night when they actually trailed but still demonstrated the qualities that set them apart. Barcelona’s first shot came inside a minute and they led within 10 when Leon’s long looping ball from the right curled beyond Misa Rodríguez and into the net, prompting the first roar of a night that would be full of them, from beginning to end.

If there had been a hint of good fortune in that – the ball in looked more like a cross than a shot – it was in keeping with the opening minutes, which soon became a giant rondo as Barcelona controlled possession, Aitana providing the neatest touches in the middle, Hansen progressing on the right, and Fridolina Rolfö flying up the left, an extraordinary display of athleticism and precision delivery. From one cross, Hansen might have made it too, her rising shot just clearing the bar.

It took Madrid 13 minutes to have a touch inside the Barcelona half, and that was a tackle from Olga Carmona. But football doesn’t always make sense and it was only another minute before they were level. Neat footwork from Maite Oroz found Carmona whose cross hit Irene Paredes’s arm. From the spot, Carmona found the net right by the post.

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona Women celebrates after scoring their team’s fourth goal.
Alexia Putellas of Barcelona Women celebrates after scoring their team’s fourth goal. Photograph: Álex Caparrós/Uefa/Getty Images

It was the first time Madrid had been in the area and it would be the last time in the half too, the rondo re-established. The one moment they escaped, Paredes flew across to make a tackle that took her opponent off her feet and put her supporters on theirs. Barcelona’s control was total, Paredes, Hansen and Rolfö all having attempts on goal, but still it was level. And, somehow, when someone took the lead early in the second half, it was Madrid. From just six yards inside the half, Claudia Zornoza looked up, saw a gap and hit an absolutely sensational shot over Sandra Paños and into the net.

Game on? Well, yes, but it was Barcelona’s – back in the lead inside five minutes. Aitana soon levelled, dropping the shoulder and neatly slotting a left-footed finish into the corner. The place went wild then but what came next eclipsed even that, Claudia Pina clipping over Misa to make it three.

Women's football graphic Moving the Goalposts

Sign up for our new and free women’s football newsletter

This was the party they had been promised, everyone singing and dancing, drums beating, volume rising, and it wasn’t over yet. The Queen hadn’t arrived yet but she wasn’t far behind. Alexis Putellas, the world’s best player, the club captain and Ballon d’Or winner whose face looks out from the facade of this grand stadium, scored the fourth and Rolfö tore into Madrid again to set up Hansen for the fifth.

A Mexican wave went round, just one thing left to see. And with three minutes left there it was, the figure they had been waiting for at last flashed on the scoreboard, 91,553 fans greeting it with the biggest roar of a raucous night, their place in history secure.

Source link