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Potsdam celebrate start of new era

1. FFC Turbine Potsdam held their nerve to win a thrilling shoot-out against Olympique Lyonnais as the inaugural UEFA Women's Champions League concluded in dramatic fashion in Getafe.

Potsdam celebrate start of new era
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The inaugural UEFA Women's Champions League campaign finished in dramatic fashion as 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam held their nerve against Olympique Lyonnais to win a shoot-out 7-6 after the final in Getafe had finished goalless after extra time.

A crowd of 10,372 at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez witnessed an enthralling spectacle, that was ultimately decided when Lyon's Élodie Thomis crashed the 18th penalty off the crossbar to give Potsdam their second European crown after winning the competition's previous incarnation, the UEFA Women's Cup, in 2004/05.

The creation of the UEFA Women's Champions League was designed to raise the profile, standard and standing of women's club football, and a new competition meant a new format. For the first time the league runners-up from the eight top-ranked nations were given entry alongside the champions, and 53 teams from 44 countries began the competition. That number included three sides from Germany as the last UEFA Women's Cup winners, FCR 2001 Duisburg, had finished third in their league.

Meanwhile, the old two-legged final was abolished, replaced by a one-off decider two nights before the men's UEFA Champions League showpiece in or near the same city. With Madrid that city, the home of Getafe CF selected as the first venue.

The UEFA Women's Cup knockout stage had previously begun in the quarter-finals; now the two-legged games started in the round of 32, with 25 automatic entrants joined by the seven qualifying round group winners, all league runners-up from the previous season. By the quarter-finals in the spring only two of those remained, and ASD Torres Calcio and Montpellier Hérault SC fell respectively to Lyon and Umeå IK.

Sweden's Umeå won two UEFA Women's Cups and reached five finals but Lyon, having been knocked out in the last four in 2007/08 and 2008/09, pipped them to Getafe. They won the first leg 3-2 at Stade de Gerland and then held out 0-0 in the return, their trip to northern Sweden delayed ten days due to the volcanic ash flight restrictions. Lyon's victory gave the club their first major European final a day after the men's side had fallen in the UEFA Champions League last four.

The other semi-final matched two German rivals, Duisburg and Potsdam. In the first leg Duisburg secured a 1-0 home win but their reign as European champions was ended in Potsdam as Tabea Kemme levelled the aggregate score and 17-year-old Turbine goalkeeper Anna Felicitas Sarholz saved three shoot-out penalties as the eastern club prevailed 3-1.

Sarholz was to prove a key figure again in the final which remained goalless after 120 minutes despite both sides creating numerous chances. Lyon goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi put Lyon within an ace of lifting the trophy with saves from Jennifer Zietz and Anja Mittag, but with the title on the line Sarholz pulled off successive stops to swing the momentum Potsdam's way. Victory was theirs when Thomis hit the bar with the 18th spot-kick.

The competition may have changed, but the outcome was familiar as for the third year in a row – and the sixth time in nine editions – a German side had won women's club football's premier competition. Lyon coach Farid Benstiti was understandably downcast, but reflected on a night of high drama and a successful new format when saying: "Women's football is the winner."

His counterpart Bernd Schröder concurred. "It is a signal from UEFA that women's football is not so separate from the men's game that the two finals are played together in the same week," he said. "We have to promote women's football."