Barcelona win Women’s Champions League with stunning comeback

Down 2-0 at halftime, Barcelona came back to beat VfL Wolfsburg 3-2 – with Swedish defender Fridolina Rolfo scoring the winning goal.

FC Barcelona's Alexia Putellas lifts the trophy with teammates after winning the Women's Champions League final. [REUTERS/Yves Herman]
FC Barcelona's Alexia Putellas lifts the trophy with teammates after winning the Women's Champions League final [Yves Herman/Reuters]

Barcelona have won their second Women’s Champions League in three years after coming back from two goals down to beat VfL Wolfsburg 3-2 in a thrilling final before a sold-out crowd in Eindhoven.

Swedish defender Fridolina Rolfo struck the winning goal from close range in the 70th minute, rounding off a sensational comeback for Barcelona, who had been 2-0 down at halftime on Saturday.

The Spanish league champions quickly set the record straight in the second half as Patricia Guijarro headed in two goals in the first five minutes after the break.

Jonatan Giraldez’s side has now won two of the last three finals after earning their first triumph over Chelsea in 2021, continuing to establish themselves as the main rivals to record eight-time winners Lyon.

Wolfsburg's captain Svenja Huth lies on the ground at the end of the Women's Champions League final soccer match between FC Barcelona and VfL Wolfsburg at the PSV Stadion in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Saturday, June 3, 2023. Barcelona won 3-2. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Wolfsburg’s captain Svenja Huth lies on the ground at the end of the match [Martin Meissner/AP Photo]

Barcelona secured victory with two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas on the bench until the final stages, as she continues to find form after the knee injury that had sidelined her for most of the season.

“I’m so emotional, I never thought this would happen, at 2-0 [down] at the beginning, I felt we could do it, but it was so hard,” match-winner Rolfo told DAZN.

“We showed so much mentality today; I’m so proud of the team.

“[At half-time, we said] we should just continue, we had the ball, we did a great job, but they scored two goals from their two chances, but we had to continue, believe in what we were doing, and we did.”

FC Barcelona's Mapi Leon in action with VfL Wolfsburg's Pauline Bremer. [REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw]
FC Barcelona’s Mapi Leon in action with VfL Wolfsburg’s Pauline Bremer [Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters]

Wolfsburg took the lead after just three minutes when Ewa Pajor picked Lucy Bronze’s pocket on the edge of the box and rammed past Sandra Panos.

The England international had not played since April, taking surgery on her knee after the semifinal first-leg win over Chelsea, and that rust showed.

Goalkeeper Panos might have done better, too, getting a hand on top scorer Pajor’s effort but not doing enough to thwart her ninth strike of the tournament.

Barcelona defender Irene Paredes should have equalised but sent a free header wide at the far post from Mapi Leon’s sweetly delivered corner.

Caroline Graham Hansen, who scored in both legs of the semifinal win over Chelsea, also spurned a fine chance from point-blank range, failing to make solid contact on a cross.

Soon Barcelona paid the price for their profligacy, with Wolfsburg netting the second on the counterattack.

Veteran forward Alexandra Popp muscled Leon off the ball, which Barcelona was unhappy about, before darting into the box to head home the second from Pajor’s cross.

The Germans deserved their advantage, with Barcelona lacking sharpness and not matching their opponents’ energy levels.

But Barcelona’s second-half whirlwind proved too much for Wolfsburg, who were chasing their first Champions League crown since 2014.

They came close to an equaliser from a corner in stoppage time, but in the end, offered too little to prevent Barcelona from lifting the trophy in front of nearly 34,000 fans in Eindhoven’s PSV Stadium.

This year’s final was the first before a sold-out crowd in the history of the Women’s Champions League and attracted the biggest crowd ever to a women’s football match played in the Netherlands.

Source: News Agencies