Chelsea, Barça reach WCL final after Harder, Martens shine

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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