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UWCL nostalgia watch: Olympique Lyonnais last the distance against VfL Wolfsburg

Camille Abily could not have wished for a better send off as Lyon won their 15th European title.

VfL Wolfsburg v Olympique Lyonnais - UEFA Womens Champions League Final Photo by Ahmad Mora/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Fans and neutrals alike had to wait until 90 minutes had passed before a single goal was scored on May 24, 2018. Olympique Lyonnais Féminin and VfL Wolfsburg Frauen had nullified each other throughout regular time and it came down to which team could rally one more time in extra time to decide a winner. The French champions stepped up and blew away Wolfsburg within the space of five minutes to end the tie and win their third UEFA Women’s Champions League title in a row.

It was a battle of attrition for most of the game as neither side’s attack could find a way through some dogged defending. The likes of Pernille Harder and Caroline Graham Hansen were relegated to defending deep and looking to counter while Ada Hegerberg and company had to deal with two banks of four every time they strode forward. Olympique Lyonnais’ original formation was too narrow and it allowed Wolfsburg to funnel back and keep the game in front of them for most of the match. It wasn’t great viewing for the neutral but if you were a fan of defending, Nilla Fischer led the Wolfsburg backline with authority for the full 90 minutes. It took going down to ten players for Wolfsburg to break and when they did, they could not stop the momentum Lyon got once they found an equalizer.

The German side took the lead first in extra time but Lyon did not falter as they looked to send French legend Camille Abily off with one more final title. Wolfsburg had no answer for the tide that met them once they had opened the scoring and they were left shell-shocked when the final whistle blew.

Pernille Harder only needed one chance to make her mark
Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

Pernille Harder started things off in the 93rd minute when she picked up the ball in midfield and ran all the way towards goal with no one stepping up to stop her. She then took a speculative shot from outside the penalty area that deflected off of Wendie Renard and away from the scrambling Sarah Bouhaddi. Lyon showed signs of weariness there as no one even tried to tackle Harder throughout this sequence and allowed her to stop, take a touch and shoot from distance. You could have been forgiven for thinking that that lack of effort was a sign of Lyon’s demise but Alexandra Popp gifted the French champions an opportunity to get back into the game almost straight away. Popp was outdone by Delphine Cascarino’s touch near the sideline and she decided to lunge in with a dangerous tackle. The referee had no choice but to show Popp a second yellow card and give her her marching orders in the 95th minute.

Amandine Henry led the way, as she tends to do when her teams need her the most, when Lena Goeßling’s misclearance allowed her to body her marker off the ball before finishing cleanly past Almuth Schult in the 98th minute. Lyon were back on level terms and sliding into a higher gear. Lyon made it 2-1 in the 99th minute when Shanice van den Sanden, who had come on a few minutes earlier for Saki Kumagai, found herself free down the right hand side. Her square pass into the pass found Eugénie Le Sommer at the near post, who couldn’t miss from that range. Lyon, and van den Sanden, weren’t done as four minutes later, the Dutch forward picked out Ada Hegerberg unmarked for the first time in the whole game and Hegerberg made no mistake with her finish. The icing on top of an impressive cake came in the 116th minute when “super sub” van den Sanden again provided another assist as she found Camille Abily, who then proceeded to curl the fourth goal past Schult. It was a great finish to cap off a fantastic career for Abily and an impressive late surge from Olympique Lyonnais.

UEFA Women’s Champions League”VfL Wolfsburg women v Olympique Lyonnais women”
Amandine Henry provided the spark for Lyon to go on and win the game

You could not have written it any better for Lyon, as they not only came from behind in extra time to beat a tough Wolfsburg outfit, but they also managed to find a goal for Abily and give her the retirement party her lengthy career had deserved. As for Wolfsburg, it showed once again that they were inches away from being able to compete with Lyon but they were still not close enough to defeat the French champions. Taking the lead and then proceeding to throw it away in that fashion will always haunt Wolfsburg as they strive to find that elusive third Champions League title.