VfL Wolfsburg 1-0 Olympique Lyonnais
UEFA Women's Champions League Final
7.30pm, Thursday 23 May 2013
Stamford Bridge, Chelsea FC
London's Champions League football bonanza began in earnest on Thursday night as VfL Wolfsburg were crowned European Champions at Stamford Bridge.
Two days before the UEFA Champions League Final between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich at Wembley, Women's football took centre stage.
With Germany almost taking over London this week, it was Wolfsburg who were aiming for the week's first piece of silverware, and had to do what Frankfurt and Turbine Potsdam have failed to do in the last two years. And that's beat Olympique Lyonnais.
And it took a 72nd minute penalty from Martina Muller to win a tight contest that Lyon could well have taken charge of much earlier. But it wasn't to be, as the Germany side celebrated at the home of the Europa League winners.
Wolfsburg, who beat Arsenal over two legs in the semis, came out looking for an early goal and they were unlucky not to see Nadine Kessler’s effort go in. She did well to quickly pick herself up after a chance seconds earlier, but her looping shot from ten yards shaved Sarah Bouhaddi’s post.
However, it was the two-time champions from France who began to take a foothold in the game and came just as close the other end. After an initial strike from Camille Abily was diverted away for a corner, the incoming set-piece from Megan Rapinoe found the head of Amandine Henry.
The commanding midfielder made a near-perfect connection but the ball faded agonisingly away from the top corner of Wolfsburg’s goal.
Swedish striker Lotta Schelin, who has been influential in Lyon’s two recent successes in Europe, was given enough space to have her first taste in this year’s Final. But her shot from 20 yards was easy for Wolfsburg ‘keeper Alisa Vetterlain.
She was also well down to deny a dipping drive from Henry moments later. However, Vetterlein needed to rely on her centre-back Ivonne Hartmann after Rapinoe’s header was going in. Hartmann hooked away from danger.
Camille Abily, another of the Lyon squad aiming for a third winners’ medal, was also presented with a golden opportunity from a Henry pass, but skied the ball into the crowd.
And they were almost made to pay for not finishing off their chances when, with half-time approaching, Muller reacted quickest to a high cross towards the edge of the Lyon box. Beating Laura Georges to the ball, she smashed first-time but, again, the effort was off target.
Five minutes into the second half and the French champions could have been in front when Elodie Thomis skipped past Alexandra Popp on the right and made her way in to the box. However, her pass inside the six-yard area towards her two supporting team mates was poor and Wolfsburg were able to clear.
Lyon then saw their cries for a penalty turned down after Abily’s flick appeared to hit the hand of Hartmann, but referee Teodora Albon waved away appeals.
The Lyon no.23 quickly put that out of her mind, though, when a corner fell kindly to her on the angle of the six yard box. She drove powerfully at the goal, but was this time denied by Vetterlein.
The rain, which had been threatening all evening, began to fall from the sky, but the change in the weather didn’t bring about an immediate change in the pattern of play, as the German outfit were restricted to rare foray’s forward by a confident Lyon side.
However, when a hosited ball into the Lyon area from the right caught the hand of Georges, referee Albon had no hesitation pointing to the spot. Muller stepped up and sent a powerful strike high into the Lyon net.
The goal visibly rocked the holders, and they needed a response if they were to retain their title for a third season. Henry had a chance to restore parity with five minutes left, but couldn't keep her shot from 18 yards down.
Even the fancy footwork on Luisa Necib and the strength of Schelin couldn’t find a way through the resolute German rearguard.
Substitute Lina Magull could have really calmed Wolfsburg’s nerves in the final minute of normal time as she shimmied past her marked inside the area, but Bouhaddi’s save was superb, preventing the shot from sneaking inside the post.
Time was simply not on Lyon’s side, though, and when Necib’s last-gasp turn and shot from 18 yards was parried by Vetterlein, it looked like their luck had run out too.
And when the Romanian official whistled for full time, it brought about scenes of jubilation at Stamford Bridge and Wolfsburg were Champions of Europe to complete the first part of a German London double.
Alisa Vetterlein, Luisa Wensing, Zsanett Jakabfi (Lina Magull, 78), Anna Blasse, Alexandra Popp, Nadine Kessler (c), Ivonne Hartman, Martina Muller, Conny Pohlers (Navina Omilade), Josephine Henning, Lena Goessling
Subs not used Jana Burmeister, Johanna Tietge, Eve Chandraaratne, Laura Vetterlein, Stephanie Bunte
Coach Ralf Kellerman
Goal Martina Muller 73 (p)
Sarah Bouhaddi, Wendie Renard, Laura Georges, Amandine Henry, Megan Rapinoe, Lotta Schelin, Louisa Necib, Elodie Thomis, Corine Franco, Sonia Bompastor, Camille Abily (Eugenie Le Sommer, 66)
Subs not used Celine Deville, Elise, Bussaglia, Sabrina Viguier, Lara Dickenmann, Ami Otaki, Amel Majri
Coach Patrice Lair
Referee Teodora Albon
VfL Wolfsburg 1-0 Olympique Lyonnais