Barcelona Femeni draw against Benfica in eight-goal thriller

Barcelona Femeni draw 4-4 against Benfica
PHOTO | X: @FCBfemeni // Barcelona Femeni draw 4-4 against Benfica

Barcelona Femeni and Benfica had both secured their spot in the next round of the Champions League prior to their encounter in Lisbon, making the second leg of their group stage fixture a mere formality. However, no one could have predicted the outcome of the game between both sides as both teams shared the spoils in an eight goal thriller that delivered drama, tension, and maximum levels of excitement.

Barca started the game dominant as always and enjoying the lion’s share of the ball before Benfica turned things around and gave the Catalan side a scare that ended their winning streak and almost ruined their run of unbeaten games this season.

First Half

Barcelona started the game strongly and opened the scoring in the 18th minute with Caroline Graham Hansen. Lucy Bronze sent an inch-perfect cross into the box, giving the Norwegian forward a chance to power a header past the goalkeeper to give Barcelona the lead.

Lucy Bronze and Caroline Graham Hansen combine to score for Barcelona Femeni
PHOTO | X: @BarcaArchive // Lucy Bronze and Caroline Graham Hansen combine to score for Barcelona Femeni

Barely two minutes after the first goal, the Norwegian forward turned provider as she sent a low delivery into the box for Patri Guijarro to finish from close range. Two goals in two minutes sent the Blaugrana 2-0 up in Lisbon, with all evidence pointing to another Barcelona rout by the end of the game.

However, Benfica received a boost when Marie Alidou halved the deficit in the 26th minute. Jessica Silva picked Marta Torrejon’s pocket on the edge of the box before sending Alidou through on goal. The forward finished brilliantly reviving Benfica’s hope of a comeback.

On the stroke halftime, Benfica completed the comeback when Marie Alidou scored a header to equalize for the Portugues side. The forward was left unmarked as she met with Andrea Falcon’s cross from the right flank and headed home to make it 2-2 at halftime.

Second Half

Barcelona started the half strongly and almost scored in the 51st minute when Salma Paralluelo’s shot was saved by the goalkeeper. However, Barca would not be denied in the 54th minute as Caroline Graham Hansen completed her brace after meeting with Mariona Caldentey’s deep cross to put Barcelona back in front.

In similar fashion to the first half, Barcelona grew complacent and the team looked confused and indecisive for the larger parts of the game as Benfica continued to press the champions for a way back into the game.

Benfica’s vigor and vitality once again roared back to life when a counter attack in the 71st minute led to Jessica Silva scoring another equalizer to keep the game level. Benfica split the Barcelona backline open again and Gemma Font could do nothing to stop Silva’s low shot from finding the back of the net.

In the 81st minute, Benfica seemed to have secured a victory over the Spanish side when a corner kick resulted into Lucy Bronze turning the ball into her own net. Gemma Font’s attempt at punching the ball clear failed and left Lucy Bronze no choice than to attempt a header away from the goal line. The English full-back was unable to make full contact with the ball and her headed clearance sent the ball over the goal line putting Benfica ahead in the game.

Barcelona searched for a late equalizer in the last minutes of the game and every available resource was camped in the Benfica penalty area. With six minutes added at the end of regulation time, Barca kept launching crosses and waves of attacks into Benfica’s box in a bid to get a goal. They came close to scoring a few times but were denied exquisite saves from Benfica’s goalkeeper, who had been inspired throughout the game.

However, the Portuguese side’s resilience was broken in the last minute when Lucy Bronze scored a brilliant header for Barcelona. The Lioness got her name on the both sides of the scoresheet after rising the highest in the box to connect with Claudia Pina’s delivery from a cornerkick. Bronze’s goal brought the game level at 4-4, ensuring that both sides share the points, and saving Barcelona’s unbeaten record this season, even though, their winning streak has been brought to an end.

The action-packed game was filled with excitement, drama, and tension as Benfica did the unexpected, forcing the European champions to dig deep to salvage a draw on the night.

The game ended 4-4 at full time, delivering the most dramatic end to the group stage of the Champions League. While the draw puts a stain on Barca Femeni’s 23 game winning run, the Blaugrana still remain unbeaten across all competitions this season.

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