Friday, 27 May 2011

Olympique Lyonnais 2 v 0 Turbine Potsdam

Wednesday 26th May 2011
Women's Champions League Final
Craven Cottage, London
Admission: £5.00
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 14,303
Match Rating: 4

The showpiece of women's club football in Europe, the UEFA Women's Champions League final, being held in London, together with a bargain ticket price of £5, was more than enough temptation to make a return visit to Craven Cottage, home of Fulham.

Craven Cottage is located about a twenty minute walk from Putney Bridge tube station, with the option of either walking through a park or alongside the River Thames. I bought my ticket on-line, for a seat in the Johnny Haynes stand, although unfortunately I misread the seating plan when choosing my seat, and so I was sat right at the back of the stand, with the stand's low roof and several supporting pillars obstructing the view of the action (for the second half, I relocated to the front of the stand). The Johnny Haynes stand is surprisingly old-fashioned, even having wooden seats, and it is quite interesting how this stand remains, with the charming Craven Cottage located in the corner of the ground where the teams come out onto the pitch, contrasting with the other three modern and characterless stands, although all of which offer good, unobstructed views. Programmes were available for a bargain £2 and was a fantastic publication. A4 sized and 52 pages, it contained all the information you could wish for regarding both teams and the competition, together with many interesting articles.

This evening's game was a repeat of last season's final, which was the first time the final has been played as a one-off game a couple of days before the Men's Champions League final in the same city. Previously, the final was played home and away. Last year, Turbine Potsdam triumphed on penalties after a goalless draw after extra time. It is fair to say that Olympique Lyonnais are the stand-out team in French football - they have won every one of their 21 games so far this season, scoring 101 goals and conceding just five, with just one game left to be played on Sunday. Since losing last year's final, they have won seven and drawn one of their eight games since, defeating Arsenal 5-2 over two legs in the semi-final. Turbine Potsdam have dominated the German league, having just claimed their fourth consecutive title, although they certainly have more competition than Olympique Lyonnais have in France, finishing just a point ahead of FFC Frankfurt. They had a comfortably road to the final up to the semi-final stage, which they narrowly edged by 3-2 over two legs against fellow German team FCR Duisburg.

As for the match itself, it was a terrific advert for women's football, played at a fast pace, competitive and with plenty of skill. The opening exchanges pointed towards a close encounter and that is exactly how the match panned out. Olympique Lyonnais almost took the lead inside the opening quarter of an hour when a corner by Louisa Necib hit the post. They did take the lead on 27 minutes when a Wendia Renard poked home from close ranger after the Potsdam keeper had saved a shot.Both teams fashioned the occasional chance throughout the rest of the half, although Lyon always looked the more likely to score.

The second half continued in a similar vein, with Potsdam having progressively better chances to equalise, and there was an incredible let off for Lyon when Potsdam's Anja Mittag couldn't get the ball under control when just 6 yards out. The game remained in the balance right through to the 86th minute, when Olympique Lyonnais finally put the game to bed with a fantastic goal.created by two subsitutes - Eugénie Le Sommer crossed the ball from right to left, finding Lara Dickenmann just inside the penalty area, who controlled the ball before sending a fizzing shot into the top corner. A superb goal which adequately reflected the extra touch of class that Olympique Lyonais showed, and the excellent quality of the game in general, and the Women's Champions League - and its earlier equivalents - was won by a French team for the first time.

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