Chelsea, Barça reach WCL final after Harder, Martens shine

AP Sports

Chelsea’s Pernille Harder celebrates scoring their side’s third goal of the game during their UEFA Women’s Champions League semi final, second leg soccer match against Bayern Munich at Kingsmeadow in London, Sunday May 2, 2021. (John Walton/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Pernille Harder’s late header made the difference for Chelsea, and Lieke Martens scored twice for Barcelona, as they took a step closer to becoming European champions.

Both teams advanced to the Women’s Champions League final when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich 4-1 after Barça topped Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the second leg of their semifinals on Sunday. They’ll meet on May 16 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Harder headed in from a free kick in the 84th minute to give Chelsea a 3-1 lead — 4-3 on aggregate. Fran Kirby added her second goal of the game in the 95th, firing into an empty net after Bayern had sent everyone forward in the dying minutes, to make it 5-3 on aggregate.

Kirby had opened the scoring early on, and the teams then traded first-half goals with Sarah Zadrazil tallying for the visitors and Ji So-yun for Chelsea at Kingsmeadow stadium.

It’s the first time Chelsea has reached the final.

Earlier Sunday, Barça advanced by an aggregate score of 3-2. Playing in front of nearly 1,000 fans at Johan Cruyff Stadium, the hosts built an early two-goal lead over PSG thanks to stellar finishing from its Netherlands winger.

Martens, the UEFA women’s player of the year in 2016-17, caught up to a long pass down the left side and curled a right-footed shot into the top far corner of the net in the 8th minute. She was then left unmarked at the far post to tap in a low cross from Caroline Graham Hansen in the 31st.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto scored for the visitors three minutes later.

The Catalan club’s only other trip to the final was in 2019, when it lost 4-1 to French powerhouse Lyon.

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