Barcelona and Chelsea reach Women's Champions League final
Barcelona and Chelsea stamped their tickets to the UEFA Women's Champions League final by winning the two thrilling semi-finals.
Barcelona defeated PSG 2-1 at home (3-2 on aggregate), and Chelsea beat Bayern 4-1 in London (5-3 agg) in the UEFA Women's Champions League semi-finals on Sunday (2 May) to set up a Barcelona-Chelsea final.
Two pulsating semi-final second leg matches gave us 8 goals and plenty of thrills.
Pernille Harder scored 6 minutes from the end before Fran Kirby added a fourth in injury time to spark wild Chelsea celebrations and seal their passage to the first final in their history.
Dutch flyer Martens was the hero for Barcelona, she scored two first half goals to help Barca past PSG and reach their second final of the top-tier European competition in three years.
The final will take place on 16 May in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Chelsea beat Bayern
The first goal came early in London, Chelsea netting after just 10 minutes as season stand-outs Fran Kirby and USWNT star Sam Kerr combined.
A sizzling counter-attack started when Kirby carried over the halfway line, feeding Kerr who found a lovely left-foot finish into the corner.
The 1-0 scoreline would have been enough for Chelsea to win the tie, but Bayern's Sarah Zadrazil was having none of that, on the 29' mark she drilled a right-footed strike off the crossbar and in from 30 metres outside the box.
A spectacular way to score your first Champions League goal. 1-1.
The Austrian wheeled away in celebration but it was Chelsea doing the celebrating just 13 minutes later, South Korean Ji So-yun proving she can hit a half-volley too, smashing home after her free-kick bounced off the wall.
2-1 to Chelsea mirrored the first-leg result, and meant that the match could potentially head to extra time and even penalties.
But two late goals from the Londoners gave them victory at Kingsmeadow, to book their spot in the final.
Chelsea went into the second leg trailing by 2-1 and striker Pernille Harder was proud of the way the Londoners turned it around.
"Unbelievable, I'm so proud of the team, amazing effort we put in today being down 2-1 and then going on to win like this," she told BBC radio, "we believed in it from the first minute and I think we all saw that."
Harder's goal made it 3-1, but Bayern could have qualified by scoring just once, Harder said she only relaxed when Kirby's goal went in on '95.
"I was a bit nervous in the end but when Fran made the goal I thought yes, now it's there," Harder added.
Barca hold off PSG
While earlier in Catalonia, Lieke Martens got Barca off to a dream start, scoring in the eight minute with a spectacular top-corner finish, before doubling the blaugrana lead on '31.
PSG fought back into their semi-final with a poacher's goal from live wire Marie-Antoinette Katoto just three minutes later to cut the distance before halftime.
The Parisiens came out all guns blazing in the second half but the Barca defence held fast with some top stops from goalkeeper Sandra Paños.
As the game advanced PSG pushed hard for the equaliser and gaps opened up, Norwegian Caroline Graham Hansen streaked away on 68', PSG's Chilean 'keeper Christiane Endler had to tip her shot over.
From the resulting corner Barca top scorer Jenni Hermoso hit the post.
With just over 15 minutes on the clock PSG brought on Canadian star striker Jordyn Huitema who almost scored with her first touch, Paños in action again minutes later to beat another effort away.
As the clock ticked down hearts were set racing with a limited number of Barca fans in the stadium roaring on their team, it was end-to-end as PSG tried to score that one goal that would put them into the final, and Barcelona out to put the tie to sleep with a third of their own.
Graham Hansen was a constant thorn in PSG's side, counter-attacking at pace and providing a crucial outlet for Barca.
Nigerian Asisat Oshoala also came on for the final strait and could have ended it all in the 90th minute as she raced through all alone, but Endler made herself big and stopped her shot with her legs.
Four minutes of time added on gave PSG hope, and the Parisiens threw everything at Paños' goal, including Endler who came up for a late free kick, but Barca saw it home, Paños grabbing the ball gleefully from a dangerous set-piece as the final whistle went.
"This is our year!"
An elated Aitana Bonamatí - another standout player for Barcelona - was pumped up after the victory and had this to say to Barca TV after the match:
"Anything can happen in the final, the other team that makes it will be just as motivated as us but we're convinced that this is our year and we're going to prepare for it in every way possible."
Hero of the hour double goal-scorer Lieke Martens also spoke to Barca TV postmatch:
"We're in the final! That's the most important thing, we're so happy to make the final and now we only have to win one more match."
It's the Dutch winger's second double in the Champions League after scoring two against PSV earlier in the tournament, and she was delighted to bag another brace today:
"It's a very special day for me, really important for the team, we have a really strong team this year and the most important thing is to win. The second half wasn't easy, we wanted to score again but it wouldn't come, it was a tough match against a difficult rival, winning was what it's all about and nothing else matters today!"
Asked what it feels like to be in the final with a chance to win Barcelona's first ever Women's Champions League title Martens added:
"It's amazing, now we have two weeks to prepare and we'll be ready."