Barcelona put one foot firmly into the Women’s Champions League semi-finals for a third season in a row, courtesy of a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Manchester City in the quarter-final first leg on Wednesday afternoon.
Barca were dominant throughout the 90 minutes in Monza, northern Italy, not for a moment unsettled by playing what should have been their home leg on neutral soil.
City have been in white hot domestic form in the Women’s Super League in recent months, yet they were firmly second best as the Catalans pressed high from the start and forced mistakes in possession that led to chances early on.
Asisat Oshoala gave Barcelona a deserved first half lead, which was doubled from the penalty spot after the interval by Mariona Caldentey and capped off by top scorer Jenni Hermoso off the bench.
City now have all the work to do in the second leg in Manchester next week.
Sandro Panos (GK) – 8/10: Good anticipation and a strong hand saw her beat away the City penalty. That was a crucial moment in the tie.
Marta Torrejon (RB) – 6/10: Just about kept Hemp, who was City’s only real threat, at bay.
Andrea Pereira (CB) – 7/10: Always looking to begin play from deep as Barca dominated the ball.
Mapi Leon (CB) – 7/10: Strong and comfortable in possession at the back.
Leila Ouahabi (LB) – 6/10: City doubled up on her a few times in the first half.
Aitana Bonmati (CM) – 7/10: Put in a strong shift in central midfield.
Patri Guijarro (CM) – 7/10: Commanding performance with and without the ball.
Alexia Putellas (CM) – 7/10: Unlucky not to get a goal of her own when the ball came back off the post in the closing stages.
Caroline Graham Hansen (RW) – 7/10: Often underrated in the global view of women’s football.
Asisat Oshoala (ST) – 8/10: Well worth her goal, which was an inch-perfect effort, and generally caused City all sorts of problems, including winning the penalty.
Mariona Caldentey (LW) – 7/10: Converted well from the penalty spot to double the lead.
Lieke Martens (LW) – 6/10: Replaced Hansen with half an hour to play.
Jenni Hermoso (ST) – 7/10: Made it 3-0 from the bench with a poacher’s finish.
Kheira Hamraoui (CM) – 7/10: Added great experience to help keep Barca in control.
Ana-Maria Crnogorevic (RB) – 6/10: Slotted in seamlessly.
Ellie Roebuck (GK) – 8/10: Kept Barca at bay with a number of very good saves in the first half and could do little to prevent all of the goals.
Lucy Bronze (RB) – 6/10: Almost gifted Oshoala an early goal and not at her brilliant best.
Abby Dahlkemper (CB) – 6/10: Appeared off the pace by the time the third goal went in.
Alex Greenwood (CB) – 6/10: Asked to play centrally in place of absent skipper Steph Houghton.
Esme Morgan (LB) – 5/10: Withdrawn at half-time after a difficult opening 45 minutes in an unnatural position.
Sam Mewis (CM) – 5/10: Endured a slow first half during which the game seemed to pass her by. Even after the break she lacked her usual ruthlessness.
Keira Walsh (CM) – 5/10: Struggled against the Barca press and lost possession a number of times
Caroline Weir (CM) – 6/10: Not overawed from a technical standpoint but it was a difficult day.
Chloe Kelly (RW) – 6/10: Denied from the penalty spot when she could have got City back into the tie.
Ellen White (ST) – 5/10: Unusually wasteful of a golden chance moments before Barca took the lead.
Lauren Hemp (LW) – 7/10: Combined well with Weir and was probably City’s best threat.
Demi Stokes (LB) – 5/10: For an experienced player, the way she gave away the Barca penalty was extremely naïve and avoidable. Improved after growing into the game.
Georgia Stanway (CM) – 6/10: Made a difference and had a chance to pull one back, but it was perhaps too little too late.
Rose Lavelle (CM) – 5/10: Could do little to get City back into the game.