Wolfsburg will have the chance to add to their two previous Champions League crowns against French opposition on Sunday, after they overcame Barcelona in a hard fought semi final at the Anoeta Stadium this evening.
Fridolino Rolfo’s goal was the difference between the sides as Wolfsburg managed to hang on to reach yet another final, with underdogs Barcelona missing a host of chances after dominating the game for large spells.
In what was a cagey opening affair, Lluís Cortés team started brighter, enjoying more possession whilst limiting Wolfsburg to few forays forward.
The Blaugrana had an early penalty appeal waved away after Nigerian forward Oshoala’s flicked header hit Kathrin Hendrich on the arm. Wolfsburg goalkeeper Abt was forced to scrambled to parry the ricocheted effort over the bar as it appeared to be looping in.
Despite howls of protests from Barcelona players and a guilty looking Hendrich, the referee opted to give a corner instead of a penalty. VAR was not in operation for the game, but will be brought in for the first time for the final.
If it had have been in use it is likely that it would have overturned the referee’s decision, as replays showed that it was a blatant handball.
Wolfsburg began to find their groove, with Rolfo blazing over on 24 minutes after a swift counterattack. Doorsoun picked the ball up in the middle of the field and drove forward before releasing the Swede with an incisive pass, but she couldn’t keep her effort down.
Just after the half hour mark Barcelona went close to a break through, with Oshoala poking wide after latching onto a superb through ball from Hansen. A combination of Abt and Hendrich managed to put off Oshoala who skewed her shot past the post.
The game really burst into life during the final few minutes of the half, with Rolfo firing wide and Huth heading straight at Panos after Rolfo teed up the German with a pinpoint cross.
At the other end, Hamraoui hooked the ball over the bar from range as the deadlock remained unbroken at half time.
Barcelona missed the first of their guilt edged chances on 51 minutes when former Wolfsburg star Hansen, baring down on goal having broken through the defence, attempted and failed to square the ball to Oshoala. A shot seemed like the better option, and Wolfsburg with bodies back, managed to clear their lines.
They were left to rue that opportunity soon after as Wolfsburg punished them just six minutes later. Barcelona failed to clear Harder’s audacious attempt at an overhead kick, and after pinball in the box, it fell to Rolfo who pounced, stabbing home from a matter of yards out to give Wolfsburg the lead.
Barcelona almost got the equaliser they deserved on the hour when Oshoala met a left-field cross and directed a powerful header goal-ward. Abt was equal to it however, demonstrating her superb reflexes to tip over Oshoala’s effort.
They squandered another marvellous chance when Mariona Caldente somehow put the ball over the bar with the goal at her mercy. She had managed to get on the end of Hermoso’s well timed cutback but couldn’t apply the finish needed to steer it into the bottom corner.
Barcelona continued to launch swathes of attacks, with Wolfsburg happy to sit back and defend their one goal lead.
They again went close when full back Torrejon laid the ball into the path of Hermoso who was in a great position in the box. The winger took one touch to settle herself before dragging her shot off target, as Barcelona’s frustrations continued.
A superb last ditch tackle from Hendrich prevented Hermoso from tapping home from close range a teasing Hansen cross as Wolfsburg held on to reach their first Champions League final since 2016.
They will meet either current holders Lyon or fellow French outfit PSG in Saturday’s final, with those sides contesting the other semi final tomorrow evening at the San Mamés Stadium.
Reflecting on the game, match winner Rolfo told BT Sport:
“We’re really happy with the result. We’ve made it to the final. It was tough game today but I’m proud and happy we’ve made it to the final. We didn’t play our best game today but we still won the game. We were a little bit lucky but I’m still so proud we did it.”
Barcelona’s Hansen also gave an interview after the game and summed up the tie very well:
“The goals were the difference today. We played a good game and we had enough big goal chances to score at least three goals.
But we scored zero and they had one goal out of nothing so, for me, it feels very hard .. this defeat. But we have to congratulate them and wish them all the best for the final.”