By Paul Lagan
Chelsea 0 v Barcelona 4
Chelsea were thrashed 4-0 by Barcelona in the Champions League final – conceding the first goal after just 35 seconds and then going into let in three more before the first half was over.
It was a terrible performance by the west Londoners with no player performing close to their usual level.
Even if they had, it would still have been difficult to keep attack-minded Barcelona at bay.
Reflections on team selection and formations will be something that manager Emma Hayes will make in the coming days as she plans for another assault on the top European competition next season.
The loss of right-back Maren Mjelde to injury a month ago destabilised the defence, which has never fully recovered.
Hayes opted to play right-footed Jess Carter at left back while utilising former Liverpool winger Niamh Charles in the right back berth. If that was to nullify the Barcelona wide players, it failed miserably.
The lack of cohesion in midfield saw striker’s Kerr, Harder and Kirby isolated for huge amounts of time – in effect it was 11 players versus eight and there is only one outcome with that advantage.
In truth, it all fell apart in quite spectacular fashion on the biggest stage of all.
It will all be about what they have learned and how will they adapt. But for the fans, deprived of watching their heroes in the flesh, it will be hugely disappointed.
The shambolic start by the Blues saw them go behind after 35 seconds as first Hansen rattled Ann-Katrin Berger’s crossbar, then a shot crashed off Melanie Leupolz and the ball looped high over Berger to give the Spanish side the lead.
Pernille Harder should have equalised within a minute, but she failed to direct her half-volley shot from close range past Panos.
Harder against got free on nine minutes, but her effort was deflected away for a corner.
It went from to worse on q3 minutes when after another quick break Leupolz’ trailing leg brought down an advancing player and a penalty was given. Putellas easily slotted home, sending Berger the wrong way to double their lead.
Then it was three as Bonmati tucked the ball home from close range after a scintillating break, leaving Chelsea trailing helplessly in her wake.
Sam Kerr had a chance when a long ball by Ji found the Australian, but she could not hook the ball goal-bound with the goalkeeper in no-man’s land on 35 minutes.
11 minutes for half-time, Niamh Charles was skinned on the byline and Hansen had the easiest of chances to tuck home number four.
Harder, when given the ball at least attempted to make a dent. She saw a crisp right-footer on 40 minutes saved by Panos at her right post.
A free kick by Ji was easily held by the Barca stopper.
Emma Hayes decided to replace Melanie Leupolz with winger Guro Reiten at half-time.
Kerr had a weak header from a Fran Kirby cross seconds after the restart, on target. But it was easily snaffled by Panos.
While the Blues got a foothold in the game, it was as much to do with Barcelona game-managing their four goal lead.
This allowed the Spaniards the freedom to attack when only necessary and Hermoso he a chance to make it five on 64 minutes, but she skewed her shot wide of goals.
Hayes decided to bring on Erin Cuthbert and Beth England with 16 minutes on the clock.
Off came Kerr and Ji.
Teams: Chelsea, Berger, Carter, Bright, Eriksson Charles, Leupolz, Ingle, Ji, Kirby, Harder Kerr.
Subs: Musovic, Blundell, England, Reiten, Fleming, Cuthbert, Spence, Andersson, Telford, Fox, Beever-Jones
Barcelona, Panos, Torrejon, Guijarro, Leon, Ouahabi, Bonmati, Hamraoui, Putellas, Martens, Hermoso, Hansen
Subs: Codina, Serrano, Losada, Caldentey, Coll, Crnogorcevic, Oshoala, Fernandez, Vilamala, Font
Referee: Riem Hussein
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