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Sam Kerr helps guide Chelsea to the Women’s Champions League final
Matildas captain Sam Kerr could become the second Australian in two years to hoist the Women’s Champions League trophy after helping guide Chelsea to a momentous semi-final win.
Kerr’s national teammate Ellie Carpenter savoured victory last year with heavyweights Lyon, and on May 17 Kerr, regarded by some as the best striker in the world, gets her chance.
Chelsea overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Bayern Munich with a thrilling 4-1 victory at Kingsmeadow Stadium in London on Monday morning.
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The tie was locked with six minutes to go before Chelsea scored twice, first through Pernille Harder, which gave the Blues an advantage, before Fran Kirby sealed the victory with a fourth for Chelsea in injury time, making it 5-3 on aggregate.
It’s the first time the English club has reached the final, and they will take on Spanish giants Barcelona in the final at Gothenburg in Sweden.
Kerr, who scored a hat-trick as Chelsea defended their Women‘s League Cup title in March, played a leading role in setting up her team’s opening goal on the way to the emotional win.
“We‘ve been through a lot together. I’ve been here nine years – it’s not just happened, and it’s been a long time coming,” Chelsea coach Emma Hayes said.
“I’m going to have a nice singsong and cry all the way home because I’m so happy,”
THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL
Chelsea’s win was their first in six Women’s Champions League semi-final games, having previously lost four and drawn one.
It was also the first loss for Bayern Munich in seven games in Europe this season.
No English side has even reached the final since 2007, when Arsenal became the first team from the country to claim the prestigious trophy.
The competition has been dominated by Lyon, the French giants, who have won seven titles since 2010 and finished runners-up on two other occasions in that time. France sits second on the list of coutnries who have enjoyed the most success in the competition – Germany with nine winners and nine runners-up is the most successful, while Swedish clubs have two wins and five runners-up acolades, making them the third-most successful nation.
That is why Chelsea’s match with Barcelona reflects a growing shift in the power balance of women’s football – towards England and the Women’s Super League as well as to Spain, and away from the traditional heavyweight leagues of France and Germany and Sweden.
Barcelona have enjoyed a rapid rise in recent years. They became the first-ever Spanish team to reach the quarter-final stage (2013-14), then reached the semi-finals in 2016-17, the final in 2018-19, the semi-finals last year before this year’s appearance in the final.
With Lyon bundled out in the quarters before Bayern Munich were dumped out by Kerr’s Chelsea, the final represents a pivotal moment in women’s football history.
Regardless of who wins the biggest game in women’s club football, the trophy will be lifted by maiden competition winners – and they will also be the first club to have won both the women’s and men’s Champions League.
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