Lyon crushed Barcelona 4-1 to win the 2019 Uefa Women’s Champions League final in Budapest on Saturday.
The French side are the undisputed dominant force in women’s football right now but despite that, many expected a closer affair between them and a usually resolute Barcelona side.
Women’s Ballon d’Or holder Ada Hegerberg, though, had other ideas, bagging a 30-minute hat-trick in the first half as Lyon pulled their Spanish opponents apart. Asisat Oshoala restored some pride for Barca with a late consolation goal but it did little to dent the Lyon celebrations at the final whistle.
But what did we learn from Saturday’s showpiece?
Lyon have had a vice-like grip over the women’s game in recent years, both domestically and on the continent.
Saturday’s stroll against Barcelona landed the French side their fourth Champions League title in a row, their fourth treble in five seasons and a record sixth Champions League title in total – we should probably mention their 13 consecutive Division 1 Féminine titles, too.
That’s an absolutely ridiculous list of records and seal this latest title with a thumping win over a Barcelona side that conceded just 15 goals in 30 league games in their domestic season is all the more impressive.
Giving their almost criminal winning habit over the past decade-and-a-half, it’s hard to see anyone stopping this Lyon side.
2. Hegerberg lives up to her billing
Winner of the inaugural Ballon d’Or Feminin award, Ada Hegerberg rocked up to the Champions League final, proved exactly why she holds that title, dropped the mic and then walked out.
There was simply no stopping the Norway international as she cut through Barcelona like a buzzsaw with a 16-minute hat-trick – the first in a women’s Champions League final since the competition was rebranded in 2019 – taking her season tally to 31 goals in 26 games.
Impressed? Well, wait until you hear this: Hegerberg’s haul in Saturday’s showpiece in Budapest takes her to a career total of 255 goals in 254 games. She’s 23-years-old!
Hegerberg also has 38 goals in 66 caps for Norway but will miss this summer’s World Cup in France due to her long-standing protest against her nation’s treatment of female footballers.
“We live in a world where equality is the most important thing. That’s where we need… change,” she told Reuters recently. “There are federations, there are clubs, there are men in high positions who have a responsibility to put women in the right place too.
“And that’s where I think, I feel and I know we have a long way to go.”
That’s a whole lot of goals for Norway to be missing out on.
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3. Barca’s backbone dissolves
Barcelona have been narrow runners-up to Atletico Madrid in Spain’s Primera División de la Liga de Fútbol Femenino in each of the last four seasons but despite their agonising shortcomings, there has been no disputing their title as defensive queens of the Spanish game.
This season, Barca allowed just 15 goals in 30 league games, the best in the division, while in Europe, they had gone seven games without conceding a single goal.
That didn’t matter one bit to Lyon, though, who responded to an early scare from England international Toni Duggan by forcing Barca into a ruthless headlock. Within 30 minutes, the French champions were 4-0 up and cruising to yet another Champions League crown.
11 hours of defensive work undone within 30 ruthless minutes.
It’s probably about time to inform you of another mind-blowing achievement from Lyon this season…
This Champions League final win probably would have been celebrated as hard as any other title this all-conquering side has won in recent times but in beating Barcelona, Lyon also completed a whole season unbeaten. Not just in Europe, or the league. In all competitions.
36 games, 33 wins, three draws, absolutely no defeats. In fact, the last time Lyon lost a game was a 1-0 defeat to PSG in the 2018 Coupe de France Féminine final.
5. Contrasting emotions for Lionesses
Saturday’s final saw England’s Lucy Bronze and Toni Duggan go head-to-head in search of Europe’s biggest prize. However, there was inevitably going to be contrasting emotions come the end of the game.
Duggan had an impressive 15 goals in 37 games across all competitions before heading to Budapest but just four minutes in, missed a golden chance to put Barcelona into an unlikely lead when she flashed an effort wide from just inside the area.
There’s no telling just how the final would have gone had Duggan managed to put the chance away but given how the scoreline read at full-time, we’re pretty sure she won’t have a smile on her face tonight.
Bronze, on the other hand, made a match-high five interceptions and was one of a number of Lyon players to put in a stellar performance. The perennial women’s Champions League winners swatted Barca aside like a fly and Bronze can happily celebrate a fifth major honour since joining Lyon from Manchester City in 2017.
Surely, she won’t give Duggan too much stick?