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Match Report

"Worst decision in UWCL history" slams Hayes as Chelsea bow out of the competition

Barcelona beat Chelsea 2-0 after controversial decisions at sell out Stamford Bridge

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Chelsea FCW

28 April 2024

Chelsea lost 2-0 on the night and the tie 2-1 on aggregate to holders Barcelona amid refereeing controversy in the UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final second leg on Saturday evening at Stamford Bridge. 

Aitana Bonmati and Fridolina Rolfo found the net for the Spanish side whilst Kadeisha Buchanan was sent off for the Blues on the hour mark after picking up two quick yellow cards, the second of which Chelsea manager Emma Hayes described as the “worst decision in UWCL history”. 

Some of the other decisions by the officials could also be questioned but the Blues also didn’t take the chances they had during the match.

The sold-out attendance of 39,398 was a record for a Chelsea women’s match.

The home side had the first real opening of the match in the 4th minute but Catarina Macario’s pass towards Lauren James was overhit.  Three minutes later, another pass from the Blues didn’t find its intended target, this time from Melanie Leupolz.

As the rain started to fall, a cross from the visitors was headed clear by Sjoeke Nusken, then their captain Patri Guijarro couldn’t control the ball and saw it go wide. 

After scoring the only goal in the first leg for Chelsea, Erin Cuthbert had another chance from the edge of the area but this one flew well over in the 16th minute.

In the 22nd minute, the hosts goalkeeper Hannah Hampton was forced into a save when she stopped Caroline Graham Hansen’s shot from the edge of the area.

Barcelona took the lead on the night and levelled the tie in the 24th minute when Bonmati’s shot from just inside the area deflected off Buchanan and into the net.

Some nice build up play from the visitors on the half-hour mark involving Bonmati and Graham Hansen finished the ball being put behind for a corner by Cuthbert.

The hosts had a great chance to level on the night in the 31st minute when James passed back to Leupolz but she hit the crossbar from 6-yards out, but the offside flag was up so it wouldn’t have counted anyway.

Ashley Lawrence’s curling effort for the Blues was blocked, then Catalina Coll made a good low save to push Macario’s half volley behind. 

In the 38th minute, James couldn’t get her foot on Nusken’s low cross across goal then Cuthbert blasted over as Chelsea continued their good response after going behind.

Two minutes before the break, Barca’s Graham Hansen turned just outside the area then saw her shot deflected over for a corner.

In the final minute of the half, Rolfo aimed a curling effort at goal but this went past the angle of post and bar.  The Swedish international had the final chance before the break for the Spanish side but this time she dragged her shot wide.

The rain seemed to have got heavier at the start of the second period, and the   had the first opportunity of the half but Coll got to Johanna Rytting Kaneryd’s low cross just before Nusken.

Barcelona appealed for a penalty after a player went down after a Nusken challenge before the ball was cleared.  Ona Batlle then fired well over for the visitors.

James played a great ball to Lawrence who passed to Nusken and she saw her effort hit the outside of the post in the 57th minute as the hosts came close again to levelling on the night and going ahead in the tie.

Buchanan was sent off for the Blues in the 59th minute after she picked up her second yellow card within minutes when she committed what referee Iuliana Demetrescu deemed a foul on Guijarro meaning the hosts had to play the last half-hour with 10 players.

Almost immediately after the sending off, Salma Paralluelo headed over for Barca.  Ona Battle’s low shot was saved by Hampton in the 66th minute, then at the other end as Chelsea attacked quickly, Rytting Kaneryd saw her curling effort from the edge of the area saved.

Nusken whipped in a dangerous cross for the hosts but this was headed clear.

Barcelona were awarded a penalty in the 73rd minute after Bonmati had gone down after a tangle with Lawrence.  After a VAR check confirmed the decision, Rolfo sent Hampton the wrong way from the spot to put the visitors ahead on aggregate.

Millie Bright came on in the 84th minute for her first appearance in five months to play up front as Chelsea looked for a goal to level the tie.  Barca however slowed the match down with some tactical play in most of the remaining time. 

Eve Perisset’s deep free kick for the Blues in the third minute of stoppage time went through everyone in the penalty area and behind for a goal kick. 

Hampton stopped a Paralluelo effort with her leg deep into additional time as the Spanish side looked for a third goal.

A final cross from Agnes Beever-Jones was claimed by the Barca goalkeeper before the referee blew the final whistle and the holders reached the final for the fourth season in a row.

When speaking to the media after the match, Hayes started by praising the sold-out crowd say they were “tremendous” and gave as much support as they could.  Later, she added that she hopes they keep coming back to watch the side. 

On the Blues performance, she felt Barcelona had a strong first half and are a top team, but her side were getting on top after the break and were confident before Buchanan’s sending off.

Hayes was scathing on the referee’s performance, saying she made a “horrific decision” and is gutted for her players and feels robbed.  She remarked a number of times that decisions against them meant they “didn’t have the opportunity to lose the game as that was taken away”.

Barcelona head coach Jonatan Giraldez thought it was a “really difficult game” against a side with “amazing players and an amazing coach”.  

On the officiating, Giraldez said “it is part of the game” and the most important thing is about managing emotions when winning or losing and his side were better than Chelsea at that.

He was happy with his sides performance and felt they “were better and created more chances”.  He added qualifying for another final is a big achievement for them.



Chelsea (3-5-2): Hampton, Carter, Buchanan, Charles (c), Rytting Kaneryd (Bright 84’), Cuthbert, Leupolz (Beever-Jones 76’), Nusken, Lawrence (Perisset 84’), James (Kirby 84’), Macario (Reiten 63’)

Unused substitutes: Musovic, Ingle, Mielde, Cankovic, Bjorn

Booked – Buchanan, Charles

Sent off – Buchanan 59’


Barcelona (3-5-2): Cata Coll, Ona Batlle (Mariona Caldentey 67’), Irene Paredes, Engen, Bronze, Aitana Bonmati (Alexia Putellas 90’+2), Walsh, Patri Guijarro(c), Rolfo, Graham Hansen (Claudia Pina 86’), Salma Paralluelo

Unused substitutes: Sandra Panos, Gemma Font, Jana Fernandez, Marta Torrejon, Bruna Vilamala, Brugts, Vicky Lopez, Martina

Goals – Aitana Bonmati 25’, Rolfo (pen) 75’


Referee – Iuliana Demetrescu

Attendance – 39,398

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