Chelsea have a mountain to climb in their Women’s Champions League semi-final tie against Barcelona after slipping to a flat first-leg defeat on home soil on Saturday lunchtime. A strong crowd of 27,697 – a British record for a European game – were at Stamford Bridge for a heavyweight clash, but were silenced by a sensational fourth-minute strike from Norwegian forward Caroline Hansen Graham.
Emma Hayes’ hosts initially rallied well after falling behind early, with Guro Reiten seeing an effort ruled out for offside and also having a shot cleared off the line by Lucy Bronze, who later limped off with a knee injury in the latest pre-World Cup injury concern for England and Sarina Wiegman. Substitute Marta Torrejon hit the post with a header late on, but Barca could not find a second goal despite all their dominance after the interval.
But they will still be enormous favourites to progress next week and reach their third consecutive European final in Eindhoven on June 3. Follow Chelsea vs Barcelona reaction live below, with analysis from Standard Sport’s Dom Smith at the Bridge.
A desperately flat second half from the Blues leaves them facing a daunting task at the Camp Nou on Thursday evening.
Dominant Barca seem firmly on track for their third successive Champions League final appearance thanks to Caroline Graham Hansen’s brilliant early strike.
Chelsea 0-1 Barcelona
93 mins: Oshoala threatens late for Barca but she can’t find the finish.
This is going to end 1-0 to the visitors.
90 mins: FOUR minutes of added time signalled at the Bridge.
Chelsea have not threatened whatsoever in this second half.
They’ve been really disappointing and have a real struggle on their hands at the Camp Nou on Thursday, bar an unlikely explosive finish here.
88 mins: That’s a vicious effort from Barca forward Rolfo, who gets into the left channel inside the Chelsea box and lets fly with real venom.
Berger equal to it at her front post. Marta causes more issues from the corner but her latest header is wide.
84 mins: Three changes from both managers for the final exchanges.
Pernille Harder makes her first Chelsea appearance since November after injury. Jessie Fleming and Johanna Rytting Kaneryd are also on.
Off go Reiten, Leupolz and Perisset.
Barca replace Walsh, Hansen and Paralluelo with Ingrid Engen, Asisat Oshoala and Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic.
82 mins: Marta hits the post for Barca with a header!
Chelsea break with menace but a woeful ball from Kerr stops a dangerous counter-attack in its tracks.
Dom Smith at Stamford Bridge
It’s not been anywhere near as good from Chelsea, this second-half display. They have fallen off it somewhat, while Barca have reinstated the way they were dictating play in the opening moments of the match.
Chelsea really must push for an equaliser from any means now.
81 mins: Carter with another important header inside the Chelsea box to repel Barcelona’s latest searching cross.
Chelsea’s No7 then has to react to block an effort from Mariona.
Both sides are about to make more changes.
79 mins: Chelsea’s second-half display here has been very tepid indeed, but they have defended well to their credit.
Not many sides in Europe are capable of limiting this star-studded Barcelona attack to just one goal.
Berger has commanded confidently as usual.