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Chelsea 0-1 Barcelona: Graham Hansen screamer downs the Blues

Chelsea had no answer after Caroline Graham Hansen hit a stunning fourth-minute goal at Stamford Bridge in the UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final first leg.

Highlights: Chelsea 0-1 Barcelona

Chelsea did their best to rally after Caroline Graham Hansen's glorious early goal, but Barcelona have a healthy advantage as they head home for the second leg of their UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final.

Key moments

4' Graham Hansen stunner opens scoring
30' Bronze blocks Reiten shot
67' Bronze comes off injured
82' Torrejón hits the post following a corner 

Barcelona after silencing the home crowd
Barcelona after silencing the home crowdGetty Images

Match in brief: Barça seize the initiative

Without injured centre-backs Millie Bright and Kadeisha Buchanan, Chelsea partnered Magdalena Eriksson with Maren Mjelde in defence while former Barcelona player Jelena Čanković was selected ahead of Lauren James in attack. Barcelona did not score inside 33 seconds, as they did in the 4-0 2021 final win against Chelsea, but were ahead in the fourth minute, Caroline Graham Hansen letting fly with a brilliant long-range shot.

The Blues did not wilt, though Geyse (leading the Barcelona line with Asisat Oshoala not fully fit) tested Ann-Katrin Berger soon after. At the other end, Lucy Bronze superbly blocked from Guto Reiten after she had rounded Sandra Paños, while Sam Kerr's deployment on the right opened up the visiting defence for a time, and she and Reiten did prove a threat to Barcelona, though they were often isolated with the visitors' threat on the counter always a worry to Chelsea.

James replaced Čanković at the break as Chelsea returned to a front three but Barcelona looked the more likely side to score the next goal. There was a setback when Bronze went off with what looked like a knee injury, but Jonatan Giráldez's side might easily have doubled their advantage, Marta Torrejón striking the post from a late corner.

Chelsea brought on Pernille Harder for her first appearance since injury in November but she could not turn the tide. Now all eyes turn to Camp Nou on Thursday and the possible return of Alexia Putellas, in the stands today having been out since July.

As it happened: Chelsea 0-1 Barcelona
 Caroline Graham Hansen with her Visa Player of the Match award
Caroline Graham Hansen with her Visa Player of the Match award UEFA via Getty Images

Visa Player of the Match: Caroline Graham Hansen (Barcelona)

"A number of good performances but at this stage of the competition a world-class goal separates the two teams."
UEFA Technical Observer panel

Paul Saffer, Chelsea reporter

Just as in the 2021 final against Barcelona, Chelsea conceded early, but they did not allow Barcelona to run away with the game as they did in Gothenburg, and might well have been level at half-time. However, the Blues did find themselves pinned back in the second period and have a mighty task at Camp Nou, if not insurmountable for a team with the Blues' attacking resources.

Graham Hunter, Barcelona reporter

The thrill of the early goal was matched by the smart, disciplined way in which the Catalan side mixed lead-management with chasing a second goal. Beyond the positive of a lead is Oshoala's late entry into the match: she may well start on Thursday. A worry is Lucy Bronze's knee knock which will need assessing. Advantage Barça, though.

Chelsea's Guro Reiten and Lauren James have an on-pitch discussion
Chelsea's Guro Reiten and Lauren James have an on-pitch discussionChelsea FC via Getty Images


Graham Hansen: 'We deserved to win'

Caroline Graham Hansen, Visa Player of the Match and Barcelona goalscorer: ".All our away games in the Champions League this year have been tough, and we knew this would be no exception. We deserved this result, Chelsea didn’t have too many good chances, it’s just a pity we didn’t come away with a couple of goals more.

[On her goal] "It was just one of these moments you get the ball, everything fits when you go for it and you know it’s going to be a goal."

Emma Hayes, Chelsea manager: “A poor start. A poor time to concede a goal because you can’t give gifts to this time, their quality, they have so many outstanding footballers. We expected them to dominate the ball, this was no surprise. But good response, after the first ten to 15 minutes from the team.

"There’s things I will look at that we have to get better with. It’s 1-0, the tie’s not over. I remember it was completely over after 25 minutes [in the 2021 final] but they are the best footballing team in the world and I cannot ask for any more from the players today."

Jonatan Giráldez, Barcelona coach: "I think we did an amazing job. Of course we knew that it was a difficult game. We know they play long, the second ball, the transition. We stopped them many times in the game. We avoided these transitions, the second ball. We had patience with the ball ,had a lot of chances – maybe we could have scored more goals but in the end we got a victory and everything is open for the second leg.

"[Bronze] felt pain in the knee but I think she’s fine right now. I was talking to her immediately after the game. It was scary at first but right now I think she’s fine.”

Mjelde: 'Everything can happen'

Maren Mjelde, Chelsea defender: "Bad start, conceding after [four] minutes. If you do that, it's going to be hard against Barceloma. I think we got into the match again, we created some chances, but 1-0 is an OK result. We have to travel down to Barcelona and everything can happen."

Guro Reiten, Chelsea forward: "Tough game. We defended very well in our box. They didn’t create many big chances. Yes they had a lot of possession, I wish we’d been better in our own possession, but we had some big chances especially in the first half. An OK result I guess.

"[Graham Hansen] is phenomenal one-v-one, don’t let her in, or down the line either, so its difficult. I don’t think anyone does it better than her right now."

Keira Walsh, Barcelona midfielder: "These are the games you want to be playing in. Playing with this Barcelona team and so many talented players, I feel lucky to be here. We felt good in the game. Going into the second leg we will be looking to take those opportunities a little bit more."

Key stats

  • Graham Hansen got her first European goal of the season having missed most of the campaign with a thigh injury.
  • Marta Torrejón came on for her 75th Champions League game, while Mapi León made her 50th European appearance.
  • Chelsea boss Emma Hayes is now joint-sixth all-time games coached in this competition on 44, the record of 61 jointly held by Potsdam’s Bernd Schröder and Gintra's Rimantas Viktoravičius.
  • The crowd of 27,697 at Stamford Bridge was a United Kingdom record for a UEFA Women's Champions League game.


Chelsea: Berger; Mjelde, Eriksson, Carter; Périsset (Rytting Kaneryd 84), Cuthbert (Ingle 68); Leupolz (Fleming 84), Charles; Čanković (James 46); Kerr, Reiten (Harder 84)

Barcelona: Paños; Bronze (Torrejón 67), Paredes, León, Rolfö; Bonmatí, Walsh (Syrstad Engen 85), Guijarro; Graham Hansen (Oshoala 85), Geyse (Caldentey 60), Paralluelo (Crnogorčević 85)

What's next?

The second leg is at Camp Nou at 18:45 CET on Thursday. The final against Wolfsburg or Arsenal is on Saturday 3 June at PSV Stadion, Eindhoven.