This was supposed to be a different ending to a familiar tale. Paris Saint-Germain Féminine would finally overcome their fiercest rivals, Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, in a crucial match and end almost a decade of failed attempts against them. PSG had performed below expectations in their Division 1 Féminine campaign that year, finishing in third, but in the UEFA Women’s Champions League? PSG were showing the type of quality they could not produce on a regular basis in the league. A formidable win against FC Bayern München Frauen in the quarter-finals led them to believe that no matter who they faced, they could finally get their first ever Champions League trophy.
Lyon had other ideas and after finding a way past both VfL Wolfsburg Frauen and Manchester City W.F.C. in the lead up to the final that year, were as confident as ever of adding another Champions League title to their honours.
The current holders started off brightly and troubled the Parisienne backline looking to utilize the speed and technique of a frontline that consisted of Ada Hegerberg, Alex Morgan and Eugénie Le Sommer but it was PSG who had the best chance of the half. Marie-Laure Delie found Shirley Cruz breaking from midfield in the 32nd minute and PSG’s captain found herself inside the penalty area. Cruz cut back before taking a shot at goal but Sarah Bouhaddi had come out quickly and made herself big enough to make the save. Cruz was at the heart of another big chance for PSG right at the end of the half as her pass found Ashley Lawrence out wide who then whipped in a cross that was met by Cristiane on the volley. The Brazilian sent her effort high into the stands and the half-time whistle blew with both teams at level terms.
A more determined Lyon side came out in the second half and Hegerberg really should have put them ahead in the 52nd minute. Dzsenifer Marozsán sent in an enticing free kick that was met by Hegerberg at the far post but her initial shot was saved by Katarzyna Kiedrzynek and Hegerberg completely miss kicked her rebound, sending it out for goal kick instead from close range. A player of her quality doesn’t miss like that often and it seemed as though luck was on PSG’s side that day. Delie then proceeded to miss even worse than Hegerberg almost ten minutes later when Cruz played her through on goal. With only Bouhaddi to beat, Delie sent her curling effort wide of the far post when it would’ve been easier to score. That was the moment PSG had been waiting for, a chance to hit Lyon on the break and capitalise on them having their backline so high up. Instead, Delie missed and it ended up sending both teams into extra time.
PSG continued to stick to their game plan of sitting deep, keeping Lyon ahead of them and then looking to break quickly but with both teams tiring, neither side could find an opening during extra time. Lyon, for all of their dominance in possession, could not find a way past PSG and with Morgan leaving the game in the first half, did not have the threat they had when they first started the match.
Both teams were then forced to go through a penalty shoot-out, their second in the space of a fortnight. Lyon had won that shoot-out against PSG in the Coupe de France Féminine and were hoping to repeat the same result again in Cardiff that night.
It was a tense penalty shoot-out as both Amel Majri and Cristiane converted the first kick for both sides. Le Sommer then saw her penalty saved by Kiedrzynek who sent the ball off the crossbar and away, and PSG looked to have the upper hand. Unfortunately for them, Grace Geyoro’s effort was a tame one and Bouhaddi, who had guessed the right way, had an easy save to keep both teams equal with one penalty a piece. Wendie Renard and Delie had no problems with their penalties, sending the goalkeepers the wrong way, Griedge Mbock-Bathy, Formiga, Kumagai, Marozsán, Veró Boquete, Camille Abily and Lawrence all kept their teams in it by converting theirs as well. The drama/climax of the penalty shoot-out came right at the end as the two goalkeepers squared off against one another. Kiedrzynek was the first to step up, looking to seal the deal with her penalty but sent it wide of the goal so it came down to Sarah Bouhaddi converting her penalty and thus winning the title for her team. The French goalkeeper took a few steps forward before thumping her penalty away from Kiedrzynek’s dive, sending her and her teammates into rapturous celebration.
A vociferous crowd of over 22,000 witnessed two of the best in France match each other blow for blow throughout 120 minutes and were then treated to a rare goalkeeper vs goalkeeper moment in a penalty shoot-out. Lyon came out on top, as they always seem to do against PSG while for PSG, despite their dogged effort, could not overcome Lyon when it mattered most. David could not find a way to beat Goliath this time.