On the face of it, Germany's seventh UEFA Women's Champions League win in 12 editions was business as usual. But that the victory of German double winners VfL Wolfsburg could be deemed an upset is testament to the strength of Olympique Lyonnais.
Lyon went into the final at Stamford Bridge strongly favoured to secure an unprecedented third straight European title. They had not lost over 90 minutes for the entirety of Patrice Lair's three years as coach; they had won a seventh successive French championship without dropping a point; and at the turn of the year they had added United States winger Megan Rapinoe to an all-star squad containing most of Les Bleues' squad and Sweden forward Lotta Schelin. Indeed, they had reached the final with 40 goals scored and just one conceded in eight fixtures.
Moreover, Lyon had beaten German opposition in the last two showpieces, overcoming 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam 2-0 at Fulham in 2011 and defeating 1. FFC Frankfurt by the same score in Munich 12 months later. Wolfsburg, in the German second tier as recently as 2005/06, were making a European debut and had impressed in dismissing Arsenal LFC in the semi-finals.
In the final, Wolfsburg were without key players through suspension, illness and injury, but although Lyon dominated the first half they could not score. Then, with 17 minutes to go, Laura Georges handled in the Lyon box and Martina Müller, a Wolfsburg player since their relegation season of 2004/05, dispatched the penalty with aplomb past Sarah Bouhaddi – like Lara Dickenmann, Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry and Louisa Necib, playing in her fourth consecutive final.
Lena Goessling was named player of the match after she and captain Nadine Kessler dominated midfield at times against the likes of Camille Abily. "They really put us under pressure, but we wanted to be dangerous especially on counterattacks," Goessling told UEFA.com. "And in the end it worked out for us."
It had been some rise for Wolfsburg, who until a fortnight before the final had never lifted a major trophy yet were now celebrating a treble. It was reward for sustained investment made by the club particularly since the summer of 2011, when they signed the likes of experienced striker Conny Pohlers.
With the fourth of her six goals in the campaign Pohlers became the first player to register 40 in UEFA women's club competition, ending Hanna Ljungberg's near decade-long stint at the top of the all-time table. Having previously triumphed with Potsdam in 2005 and Frankfurt three years later, Pohlers was also the first player to pick up the trophy with three different sides. Wolfsburg themselves emulated Frankfurt (2002), Potsdam (2005) and FCR 2001 Duisburg (2009) in triumphing in their debut season, something no non-German team has managed.
Lyon will be back to challenge Wolfsburg next term, and with clubs such as Potsdam, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain FC and Marta's Swedish debutants Tyresö FF among those also involved, it looks set to be the toughest edition yet.
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