Third time’s the charm
In her third Champions League final, Norwegian Caroline Graham Hansen involved in three goals as Barcelona defeats Chelsea 4-0
JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
After losing her two previous Champions League finals, Caroline Graham Hansen could finally lift Europe’s most prestigious club trophy when her Spanish club FC Barcelona beat English club Chelsea 4-0 on May 16 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Hansen was involved in three of Barcelona’s four goals before she got substituted off after 60 minutes. She scored the fourth goal herself after getting her foot on a beautiful cross from Lieke Martens after 36 minutes of play. The goal made her the third Norwegian to score in a Champions League final (Ole Gunnar Solskjær 1999, Ada Hegerberg 2016, 2018, and 2019).
The game was never exciting. Barcelona controlled the play from the kickoff and scored their first goal in less than a minute when Chelsea player Melanie Leupolz fumbled the ball into her own net after a cross from Hansen. After 14 minutes of play, Barcelona was awarded a penalty when Jennifer Hermoso was fouled inside the box. Alexia Putellas put the ball securely in the back of the net from the penalty spot. Four minutes later, Barcelona passed their way through a passive Chelsea defense, and Aitana Bonmatí found herself one on one with the keeper. She made no mistakes, and Barcelona had practically won the final in 20 minutes.
This was Hansen’s third Champions League final. In 2016, she was injured when her team Wolfsburg (Germany) lost the final against Ada Hegerberg’s Lyon. Two years later, also against Lyon, she had to be substituted off with an injury and had to watch from the sidelines as the rest of her team lost another final.
The 26-year-old from Oslo has been seen as a potential superstar since she made her debut in Toppserien, the highest level in Norwegian soccer, at 15, but her career has been dominated by injuries.
“After the final in 2018, I called home and told my family I wanted to retire,” she said in an interview with Viafree after the game. “I was plagued with injuries, and soccer was not fun anymore. That is one of the reasons it is especially fun to be here and have contributed to winning a trophy.”
Hansen, who scored three goals in Champions League play and had nine goals and 12 assists during the Primera season, was awarded a spot in the Women’s Champions League Squad of the 2020/2021 season, a squad made up of the 21 best players in this season’s Champions League.
The title capped a tremendous season for Barcelona, which was undefeated in league play at 27-0 and allowed just five goals for a goal differential of +131.
Norwegian Guro Reiten played the second half for losing side Chelsea, while Maren Mjelde was injured. Chelsea was 18-3-1 in English Super League, edging Manchester City by two points.
This article originally appeared in the June 4, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.