Barcelona claim narrow advantage over Chelsea thanks to Hansen strike


Can Chelsea take any positives from their 1-0 loss to Barcelona?

Sophie Lawson reacts to Chelsea's 1-0 loss to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal clash.

Barcelona beat Chelsea 1-0 in their Champions League semifinal first-leg at Stamford Bridge thanks to an early stunner by Caroline Graham Hansen.

It took Barcelona less than 200 seconds to take the lead when Hansen cut in from the right flank and dribbled past defenders who were tracking back before she curled a strike from outside the box that sailed past the despairing dive of Ann-Katrin Berger in Chelsea's goal.

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Unable to do more with their early dominance, Barcelona were forced to defend for the latter stages of the first half as Chelsea grew into the game rather than trying to spring Sam Kerr with a quick ball over the top.

The most promising moment of the opening half for Chelsea came first when Kerr played Guro Reiten in, only for the flag to go up for an initial offside against Kerr after Reiten had put the ball in the back of the net. The Norwegian was involved again moments later to strike directly at goal after leaving Sandra Panos on the floor only to be denied by a body-block from Lucy Bronze.

With just one goal separating the teams at the break, it was a far cry from their last Champions League meeting when Barcelona had already scored four goals by the same point in the 2021 final.

In what could be described as a good match for the neutral, there was plenty of attacking intent from both sides but it was again the visitors who pushed to the front after the break and began to relentlessly work the Chelsea defence.

Without starting centre-backs, Millie Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan, Chelsea stood firm at the back with Maren Mjelde playing a starring role in the heart of the defence.

Barca defender Lucy Bronze went off injured in the 66th minute after hurting her knee but coach Jonatan Giraldez played down her condition postmatch.

"She felt something in her knee," Giraldez said of Bronze. "She's fine, but it in the moment we made the sub because it was bad but right now it's really good."

Still on top, but not by much, Barcelona continued to push for a second goal to make life a little easier in the return leg at the Camp Nou and almost found it when Marta Torrejon's header from a corner struck the post. 

"They are an amazing team," Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said postmatch. "Barcelona are an amazing team. We had a disappointing start but we grew into the first half, scored a goal that was offside and we needed to be perfect to beat these guys.

"In the second half we needed to be better on the ball in the right moments but I'm grateful to be in a position where the tie wasn't over after 36 minutes."

The second leg will be played in Barcelona on Thursday.