Lyon end Barcelona’s dream season

Lyon players celebrate Catarina Macario’s goal, their third in the Champions League final on Saturday. (Photo by Harry Langer/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Barcelona had slipped closer to perfection than any women’s football team. He soared to a treble in 2021, then orchestrated an encore that, by Saturday afternoon, had seemed even more untouchable. Barca had scored 159 goals and conceded 11 en route to a 30-0-0 record in Spain. He had dismissed the Champions League contenders in front of more than 90,000 fans who were waiting and enjoying the dominance.

It was the super-team of all super-teams until, on Saturday in Turin, in the Champions League final, it rushed headlong into the super-club of all super-clubs, and stumbled .

Lyon, winners of seven UEFA Women’s Champions League titles since 2011, blasted perfection into a million glittering pieces and won their eighth continental title, 3-1 against the defending champions.

The French side confronted perfection with the perfection of its own. Midfielder Amandine Henry sent a 35-yard howler into the top corner to take a sixth-minute lead.

norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg, the competition’s all-time top scorer, headed a second goal and then wonderfully assisted a third. American striker Catarina Macario finished nonchalantly at the far post.

Barca’s machine, which had rarely scored single goals, let alone multiple goals, looked stunned.

Barcelona pulled back a goal before half-time, and hit the midfield crossbar after the break. He threw superstars on the bench. He probed the many avenues that had, throughout a storybook season, led to over 200 goals, record crowds and unbroken success.

But he had never met a club like Lyon. He had never touched the consistency that Lyon have achieved over the last decade and more. And he fell, on the biggest stage of women’s club football, to a team that remains the benchmark in the sport.