Thursday, May 26, 2016

Olympique Lyonnais: 2016 UEFA Women's Champions League Winners



Lyon clinched a third UEFA Women's Champions League title as they avenged their 1-0 defeat by Wolfsburg in the 2013 final on penalties in Reggio Emilia.

In 2013, Wolfsburg held Lyon off in the first half, but 12 minutes in this time around the French champions struck, their German winger Pauline Bremer setting off on a mazy dribble down the right and squaring for competition top scorer Ada Hegerberg to turn in. Lyon, with Bremer and Amel Majri wide in a 4-3-3 formation, dominated the first half and early in the second period Wolfsburg's Élise Bussaglia had to clear off the line from ex-OL club-mate Wendie Renard.

Louisa Necib, on her final Lyon appearance, let fly from distance and her shot so nearly crept in, and despite bringing on Ramona Bachmann and Tessa Wullaert, Wolfsburg seldom looked like conjuring up the sort of comeback that won them their second final in 2014. That, though, was before Alex Popp rose to head in Isabel Kerschowski's high cross.

Eventually penalties were needed to separate the sides; Almuth Schult denied Hegerberg, but Sarah Bouhaddi saved from Nilla Fischer and former OL colleague Bussaglia before Kumagai stepped up to win it.

Player of the match: Saki Kumagai (Lyon)
Solid in midfield, the Japanese international wrote herself into the competition's history with her stutttering run-up and calm finish from the penalty spot.

Lyon brain, Wolfsburg spirit
Lyon's 4-3-3 formation enabled them Bremer and Amel Majri to outflank Wolfsburg but Popp's utter determination to win her header forced extra time when it seemed very unlikely. OL made it in the end but the beautiful thing about football is, if you do not turn chances into goals, you can come unstuck. Another classic final, after the tension of 2013, the breathless drama of 2014 and the twists of 2015.

A great generation deserved third title
 Lotta Schelin, Necib and Amandine Henry played crucial roles in Lyon's ten straight French titles and now three European crowns. It says much for how this squad is built that not only that trio but also Sarah Bouhaddi, Renard, Camille Abily and Eugénie Le Sommer have played in three final wins and five deciders overall since 2010 for Lyon.
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