Pernille Harder speaks to UEFA.com about her first Chelsea season and their run to Sunday's final.
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On 30 August last year, Pernille Harder tasted defeat in a UEFA Women's Champions League final with Wolfsburg against Lyon for the second time. Two days later she signed for Chelsea and just over eight months on from the heatbreaking loss in San Sebastián, Harder will step out with her new club in another final versus Barcelona in Gothenburg.
Denmark attacker Harder has had a fine first term with Chelsea, scoring 16 goals for a team that have won the Women's Super League and League Cup, and reached their first European final. Two of those goals came as she struck in each quarter-final leg against former club Wolfsburg as Chelsea knocked out the side who had ended three of their four previous UEFA Women's Champions League campaigns. Harder also netted in the semi-final second leg at home to Bayern München, but having been subbed off in added time as the visitors chased a decisive away goal, Harder had to watch the tense final minutes before Fran Kirby broke away to clinch victory.
The 28-year-old, the only two-time UEFA Women's Player of the Year, spoke to UEFA.com about her whirlwind first Chelsea season, their run to the final including that reunion with Wolfsburg, and why she feels Barcelona probably deserved to have pipped her old team to last summer's decider.
On her first Chelsea season
My goal for this season was to win titles with the team and we are doing that. It’s an amazing team I came into. It was quite easy to get into the team, on and off the pitch. This helped me, of course, to be able to perform on the pitch. When you come into a new team, of course you have to adapt. I feel like, during this season, I have adapted to the team and I’ve been able to help the team in the really important games.
On facing Wolfsburg in the quarter-finals
Yeah, obviously it was a special moment to play against [my] old team that I played with for so long. I think the last time I saw them before the game was the Champions League final I played with them. So it was super weird half a year later to play against them in the Champions League but when you go into a game, it’s just the game you want to win.
It was a special moment but when we went onto the pitch, I was ready to give everything for Chelsea, for my team, and [I was] happy to be able to [score] two important goals.
They were two big games to win. Wolfsburg have been dominant in the Champions League for so many years, so I think that really gave some confidence to the team, especially going on to play against another German team, Bayern.
Actually I believed from the beginning in this team, to be able to go to the final. That was also why I came here: because I knew how much strength there was or there is in this team. From day one I believed we could go the whole way.
On the semi-final against Bayern
Oh God! The last couple of minutes were just awful to watch from the sidelines. So nervous; we knew that if Bayern scored one goal, they would be through.
So when Fran scored that 4-1 goal, it was just a big relief. But yeah, the game was a great game from us. To be down 2-1 and then go into the second leg and really believe that you can go and win it, I think you have to have some characters to do that, and we have a lot of characters in this team. I was just proud, proud of the effort, proud of the way we did it, and there were just so many good feelings after that game, going to the final. It was amazing.
Barcelona are a great team. I played them last year in the semi-final with Wolfsburg and they had a really good game against us. I think they were actually, to be honest, the better team. [They] have a lot of good players, they have a nice playing style. It will be a difficult game.
It will be a really fun game to watch, two great teams playing each other. And it will be, like I said, a fun game to watch as well.