Barcelona rallies for win over Wolfsburg in Women's Champions League final
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (AP) — Midfielder Patricia Guijarro ignited a stunning second-half comeback as Barcelona overturned a 2-0 deficit to beat Wolfsburg 3-2 and win its second Women's Champions League title on Saturday.
“We didn't make it easy for ourselves,” Barcelona and England defender Lucy Bronze said in a pitchside interview after securing her fourth Champions League crown. She won it three years in a row with Lyon.
Fridolina Rolfö capped the fightback by calmly firing the winner into the far corner of the net after a mix-up in the Wolfsburg defense in the 70th minute.
Guijarro is one of 15 Spanish players, including Bonmati and four other Barcelona teammates, who renounced playing for Spain last year, citing differences with their coach. They have not played since and their participation in this summer’s Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is in serious doubt.
Wolfsburg led 2-0 at the break thanks to goals from Ewa Pajor and Alexandra Popp.
But Barcelona kept believing it could win, easing the pain of last year's final when the Catalan team never recovered after Lyon scored three times in the first 35 minutes. Barcelona lost 3-1.
“We have grown up. We didn’t break down,” Guijarro. “We have improved from last year.”
Bronze added: “We were never worried about scoring three goals.”
Barcelona earned its second league crown — the first was in 2021 — from its fourth final since 2019 in front of 33,147 fans at PSV Stadium, a record crowd for a women’s game in the Netherlands.
Guijarro’s double in the 48th and 50th minutes swiftly overturned a first half in which Wolfsburg’s pressing play and clinical counterattacking earned two goals.
First, the Barcelona midfielder slammed the ball into the roof of the net in the 48th. Aitana Bonmatí then made room for herself on the right before crossing for Guijarro to head past Merle Frohms for the equalizer. Guijarro was named player of the match, but wasn't satisfied until Rolfö sealed the win.
“I thought, two goals, we needed more. We needed to keep going,” she said.
It was a remarkable turnaround for coach Jonatan Giráldez’s Barcelona in a thrilling match.
Wolfsburg took the lead inside three minutes when tournament top scorer Ewa Pajor robbed Bronze of the ball close to the Barcelona penalty area and fired a powerful shot that goalkeeper Sandra Paños touched but could not stop from flying in. The goal improved Pajor’s tally in the competition to nine.
It was a rocky start for Bronze, who returned to the Barcelona lineup for the first time since she was injured in the semifinal first leg against Chelsea and underwent knee surgery.
Wolfsburg doubled its lead when veteran forward Alexandra Popp ran into space between two defenders and headed a cross from the left by Pajor past Paños from close range in the 37th. Popp equaled Ada Hegerberg’s record of scoring in four finals.
Wolfsburg goalkeeper Merle Frohms made sure her team went into the break without conceding by racing off her line in stoppage time to smother an effort by Salma Paralluelo.
But she couldn’t stop Barcelona’s onslaught after the break.
“It really hurt," Wolfsburg coach Tommy Stroot said. "We did so many things right. We were so close to have a big sensation here tonight, to win the title.”
With Barcelona leading and the minutes ticking down, Giráldez brought on two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who has recently recovered from an ACL injury. Barcelona’s vocal fans in Eindhoven roared as Putellas replaced Bonmatí.
It was Putellas who accepted the trophy from England coach Sarina Wiegman after Wolfsburg players formed a guard of honor for their opponents as they walked up to collect their medals.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports