Barcelona topple Lyon in Women’s Champions League final to seal quadruple

Barcelona retained the Women’s Champions League as goals from Aitana Bonmati and Alexia Putellas secured a 2-0 win over Lyon in Bilbao.

Sonia Bompastor – who is expected to replace Emma Hayes as Chelsea manager – failed to clinch the send-off she had hoped for as Lyon, the record eight-time European champions, suffered defeat in a Champions League final for the first time in their history.

Barcelona took the lead on 63 minutes courtesy of Bonmati’s clever run and finish and, after substitute Ada Hegerberg missed a glorious chance to send the game into extra-time, Putellas sealed victory from close range in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

The result caps an unprecedented quadruple for Barcelona having already secured Liga F, the Copa de la Reina and the Spanish Super Cup.

Barcelona had met Lyon four times previously in the Women’s Champions League with the French side coming out on top each time.

Player ratings

Barcelona: Coll (7), Bronze (8), Paredes (7), Engen (6), Rolfo (7), Bonmati (7), Walsh (7), Guijarro (6), Hansen (8), Paralluelo (6), Caldentey (7).

Subs used: Pina (n/a), Putellas (n/a), Batlle (6), Brugts (6).

Lyon: Endler (7), Carpenter (6), Renard (5), Gilles (6), Bacha (6), Horan (7), Egurrola (6), van de Donk (5), Diani (7), Dumornay (6), Cascarino (5).

Subs used: Majri (6), Hegerberg (5), Becho (6).

Player of the match: Caroline Hansen.

Changing of the guard in European football?

Barcelona's Aitana Bonmati celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Women's Champions League final
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Barcelona’s Aitana Bonmati celebrates opening the scoring

Big occasions call for big players. Lyon were crestfallen in a bouncing Bilbao as Barcelona celebrated their third Women’s Champions League. How fitting that it was goals from Bonmati and Putellas that secured this crown for a second straight season.

Is this the changing of the guard in Europe in women’s football? Lyon beat the Catalans in the final in 2019 and 2022, as well as winning both quarter-final legs in 2018, but they ran into a different beast this time.

Caroline Graham Hansen passes under pressure from Selma Bacha
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Caroline Graham Hansen under pressure from Selma Bacha

This could well be the moment when Barcelona – who ended Chelsea’s hopes in the last four – truly believe they can catch Lyon’s eight titles.

Bompastor’s side beat French rivals Paris Saint-Germain to reach the final, but they were flat for large spells, drowned out and outnumbered by their counterparts in northern Spain.

In front of a record crowd of 50,827, the victory adds to Barcelona’s recent dominance in the women’s game. They were playing in their fourth consecutive Women’s Champions League final, having won it last year and in 2021.

Mariona Caldentey fights for the ball with Wendie Renard
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Mariona Caldentey fights for the ball with Wendie Renard

The women’s triumph comes amid continued turmoil in the men’s team, and it is a success which comes swiftly on the heels of Spain’s national triumphs last year in the Women’s World Cup and the inaugural Women’s Nations League.

Barcelona survived an early scare when Lucy Bronze almost steered the ball into her own net in the 14th minute, but instead it struck the woodwork and bounced harmlessly away.

At the other end, Lyon’s Vanessa Gilles had to clear the ball off the line when a Mariona Caldentey shot that had been saved ricocheted goalwards and Caroline Graham Hansen also went close to scoring as the first half finished 0-0.

Barcelona goalkeeper Catalina Coll dives to divert a Lyon shot in the Women's Champions League final
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Catalina Coll dives to divert a Lyon shot off target

Barca gradually got more of a grip on the game and Bonmati, who won the Ballon d’Or and FIFA Best Women’s Player award for 2023, broke the deadlock just after the hour-mark with a shot from a tight angle which deflected off Lyon’s Gilles past goalkeeper Christiane Endler.

Lyon sent on Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg but the competition’s record goalscorer, who has been troubled by injury for much of the season, was unable to find the net despite a couple of decent chances.

Instead, Putellas, who had been struggling with a persistent knee problem, came off the bench and netted a stoppage-time goal to seal Barcelona’s win.

Giraldez: One of best days of my life

Barcelona are only the fourth side to retain the title
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Barcelona are only the fourth side to retain the title

Barcelona boss Jonatan Giraldez told DAZN:

“It was an incredible game. I am really happy, it’s one of the best days of my life for sure.

“We did an amazing job. I am very proud of all of them. When I decided in December to leave the team at the end of the season, people criticised the decision that maybe the performance of the team is going down. We showed today the amazing performance we have and deserved the victory.”

On Alexia Putellas’ goal: “Everyone did an amazing job. Alexia only played five or six minutes but there are other players as well. This is a special moment for them.”

On if he will miss the Women’s Champions League when he moves to Washington Spirit: “It was the best thing that could happen today with me, my family, almost 40 people coming from Galicia. It is a special moment and I will enjoy it.”

Bronze: Putellas is the Queen of Barcelona

Barcelona's team captain Alexia Putellas lifts the trophy after winning the women's Champions League final soccer match between FC Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao, Spain, Saturday, May 25, 2024. Barcelona won 2-0. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
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Barcelona’s team captain Putellas lifts the trophy

Barcelona’s Lucy Bronze told DAZN:

“We knew that that’s what we needed, to be a club to make history. It’s not easy, it’s hard to win it once. To win it back to back, Lyon showed how difficult it is and this team has finally done that. We go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe.”

Caroline Graham Hansen and Selma Bacha compete for the ball
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Caroline Graham Hansen and Selma Bacha compete

On Alexia Putellas: “She’s the captain of the team, she’s the Queen of Barcelona for a reason. She’s always so confident in the team and showed today why she is a back-to-back Ballon d’Or winner.

“She’s got the quality to do that in the last minute of the Champions League final when we were up against it at the end and just sealed the win for us. It was amazing.”

On the celebrations: “All of our family will be staying around. The hundreds of friends and family will be celebrating tonight. We’ve won it all so we’ve got a lot to celebrate.”

Van de Donk: Nobody likes to lose a final

Lyon suffered a maiden Champions League final loss
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Lyon suffered a maiden Champions League final loss

Lyon’s Danielle van de Donk told DAZN:

“I’m very emotional. Nobody likes to lose a final and we were here to win it. It’s a shame we didn’t create enough. Barcelona deserved the win but I’m proud of my team, we gave it our all.”

On her and Lindsey Horan’s reduced chances: “I play more as a 10 and Linsey as bit more as a six. We were a bit low in the midfield so couldn’t get the press right and that is usually our strength.

“Credit to Barcelona, they did amazing. I wish we could have pressed them a bit more, I think that could have made a difference.”

Putellas brings unbridled joy to Barcelona

Alexia Putellas came off the bench to seal the victory
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Alexia Putellas came off the bench to seal the victory

While Hayes had hoped to conclude her 12 years at Chelsea with victory in this final – the one trophy that eluded the new United States manager – before her move across the pond, nobody could begrudge Putellas putting the seal on Barcelona’s success.

Two years ago, she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and missed out on Euro 2022, but was part of the Spain squad that lifted the World Cup last summer, and four days ago signed a new deal that will keep the enormously popular player in the Catalonian capital for two more years.

It was a rousing ovation that greeted the 30-year-old when she stepped out onto the pitch in the third minute of stoppage time, a sound quickly upgraded to a roar when she found the back of the net three minutes later to cap off the victory.

Lyon will reflect on how they ought to have taken the lead when captain Wendie Renard could not put the finishing touch on Lindsey Horan’s clever flicked delivery after the restart.

But with England midfielder Keira Walsh and a particularly in-form Bronze pulling the strings, this maiden quadruple for the Catalans was richly deserved.

What’s next?

The 2023/24 season has reached its conclusion but planning has already started for the new campaign.

Several Premier League sides have confirmed pre-season friendlies ahead of the 2024/25 term, which kicks off on the weekend of August 17/18, while others have given fresh kits an early airing.

The domestic season starts the previous weekend and marks the launch of Sky Sports +, giving more choice to sports fans via live streams and a new dedicated channel, at no extra cost. In a broadcasting first, every game in the Championship, League One and League Two will be streamed live on the opening weekend of the 2024/25 EFL season.

Stand by for another busy summer in the transfer window – clubs can do business from June 14 until August 30 and the Sky Sports Transfer Centre will keep you posted with all the latest news and rumours.

Euro 2024 is just weeks away, too. Keep track of England’s Euro fixtures, check out the full tournament schedule in Germany and join us on skysports.com

Barcelona sack head coach Xavi with Flick primed to replace him

Barcelona have sacked head coach Xavi after three years in the role, with former Bayern Munich and Germany boss Hansi Flick primed to replace him.

The 44-year-old Spaniard will take charge of Barcelona’s final game of the season against Sevilla on Sunday before leaving the club.

The decision to sack Xavi comes a month after Barcelona persuaded him to stay on as manager after he initially planned to leave at the end of this campaign.

Xavi’s turbulent 2024 with Barcelona

  • January 27, 2024 – Xavi announces he will walk away from Barcelona, describing the role as “cruel and unpleasant”.
  • April 24, 2024 – Barcelona announce Xavi has reversed his decision and will take the team into next season.
  • May 24, 2024 – Xavi is sacked as Barcelona manager

According to Sky in Germany, Barcelona have reached a verbal agreement with Flick to become coach. The Spanish club say they plan to make an announcement regarding Xavi’s replacement over the next few days.

A statement from the Catalan club read: “FC Barcelona wishes to thank Xavi for his work as coach, as well as for his inimitable career as a player and as team captain, and wishes him every future success in the world.”

Xavi will depart Barcelona with the club in second place in the table, but they go into Sunday’s final day of the season 12 points behind champions Real Madrid.

The Spaniard also took the Catalans to the Champions League quarter-finals but lost to Paris Saint-Germain.

Xavi will leave his role as Barcelona head coach at the end of the season
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Xavi will leave his role as Barcelona head coach after Sunday’s final game with Sevilla

Overall, Xavi won the LaLiga title in 2023 and also lifted the Spanish Super Cup a few months later.

Xavi: Never easy to leave the club of your life

In an open letter published on social media, Xavi admitted it was difficult to leave but insisted he was proud to help pave the way for the club’s future stars despite a tough campaign.

“It is never easy to leave the club of your life, but I am very proud after two and a half years at the head of a dressing room that has been like a second family,” Xavi wrote.

FILE - Barcelona's head coach Xavi Hernandez reacts during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Betis and Barcelona at Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville, Spain, Saturday, May 7, 2022. Xavi has missed his team's flight for a preseason tour of the United States because of problems with his passport, the Spanish club said Saturday, July 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Breton, File)

“From Sunday I will be another fan in the stands… Because before being a player or a coach I am a Barcelona fan and I only want the best for the club in my life, which will always have me at its disposal.

“This season things have not gone our way, but we have let it go and helped to grow a new generation of young footballers from La Masia who inspire all Barcelona fans… I wish the best for the club that I hold dear to my heart.”

Sevilla boss: How badly do Barcelona treat their legends?

Sevilla manager Quique Sanchez Flores, who will also be departing the club after Sunday’s game with Barcelona, criticised the Catalan club for having a “bad streak” with regards to keeping their legends at the club.

Flores referenced the way Lionel Messi and Ronald Koeman left Barcelona in recent years as other examples of how poorly Barcelona have treated their key figures.

“Xavi is a coach who has cared a lot about the club. He has experienced many things as a player and has done a good job as a coach,” the former Watford manager said.

“I’ll give him a huge hug, we’ll talk.

“I shouldn’t say this, but how badly Barcelona treats its legends. Koeman, Messi, with Xavi now… what a bad streak. I wish clubs would value their legends. That adds up.”

Which top European clubs have sacked their manager?

Barcelona are the latest top European club to sack their manager at the end of this season.

In the Premier League, Chelsea are looking for a new coach after sacking Mauricio Pochettino this week. There is also serious doubt over Erik ten Hag‘s future at Manchester United, who recorded their lowest-ever finish in England’s top-flight this term.

Brighton also parted ways with Roberto De Zerbi earlier this month despite the Italian guiding the club to its first ever European campaign this season.

Bayern Munich are another top club looking for a manager after informing Thomas Tuchel in January that he would not be kept on. Burnley manager Vincent Kompany is currently the German club’s preferred candidate.

AC Milan announced that manager Stefano Pioli will leave the club, with former Roma boss Paulo Fonseca the frontrunner to succeed him.

Juventus was also sacked Massimiliano Allegri last week after the Italian manager’s behaviour after the Coppa Italia win over Atalanta. He is set to be replaced by Thiago Motta, who will leave third-placed Bologna next week.

Ajax have also recplaced interim manager John van’t Schip with Nice manager Francesco Farioli, who has left the French club.