It was a tale of contrasting fortunes for the remaining English clubs in the Champions League today, as Man City succumbed to a 3-0 defeat to Barcelona, while Chelsea held on to beat Wolfsburg 2-1.
There were outstanding goalkeeping performances, menacing forward displays and promising moments for some youngsters, as we were treated to two fast-paced, high-quality quarter finals.
Here are five things we learned from today’s games:
Chelsea can win ugly
In truth, Wolfsburg should probably have led the game at half-time and would’ve done but for some world-class saves from Ann Katrin-Berger and some good fortune from the post.
Similarly to the previous round against Atlético Madrid though, Chelsea managed to find a way. It wasn’t the stereotypical, domineering way we have come to expect in recent times, but it was a way that put them in prime position to make the semi-finals.
It was Wolfsburg who had more of the possession, more shots and the better of the chances, but it was Chelsea who had Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr and former Wolfsburg forward, Pernille Harder.
It was Kerr who scored the first, while Harder finished off the second as Kirby and Kerr both combined to set up the Dane.
While Emma Hayes will no doubt have expected more from her side, Chelsea’s ruthless ability to make their chances count suggests that perhaps this could be their year.
Wolfsburg are not to be underestimated
Given the form of Bayern Munich this season, many assumed that Wolfsburg were not quite the formidable force they once were and adjudged Chelsea to be strong favourites leading into this fixture.
Despite losing the match 2-1, there were nonetheless some pleasing signs for the German outfit, who were largely the better team throughout.
Alexandra Popp was a particular standout for the away side, hitting the post and having a goal chalked off for handball early in the first half.
The goal from Dominique Janssen will also give Wolfsburg confidence that they can unlock Chelsea’s defence and are most definitely still in this tie.
Niamh Charles is a serious talent
Questions were raised when Niamh Charles signed with Chelsea at the beginning of this season, especially given the wealth of attacking options at Emma Hayes’s disposal.
However, the 21-year-old has showcased her versatility in recent weeks, filling in at right-back in place of the injured Maren Mjelde.
Charles was impressive again tonight, using her pace to get up and down the right with great effect. It was a mature performance by a player so young, especially considering Wolfsburg had clearly targeted the English youngster as a potential weakness.
While the injury to Mjelde was no doubt a setback for Chelsea this season, the emergence of Charles highlights the club’s exceptional strength in depth and their ability to identify high-class youth players.
Ellie Roebuck and Lauren Hemp impressive
The young England duo were rare positives for Gareth Taylor in Manchester City's 3-0 loss to Barcelona. Whilst it was certainly a deserved win for the Catalonians, it paints an unjust picture of these players' individual displays.
Roebuck was beaten only by a power strike from Asisat Oshoala, a penalty and a goal-mouth scramble in the dying moments of the match. Her performance was otherwise flawless – making crucial saves with both her hands and feet to deny a side that boasts 99 goals in 20 league appearances this season.
Similarly, Hemp caused Barca a lot of problems out wide. The 20-year-old orchestrated the majority of Man City's attacks and drew the foul in the box to award the Citizens a penalty in the second half. Although the first leg winners were tight and compact in defence, Hemp was more than a handful for them to contain and they will undoubtedly be preparing to focus on silencing her in the reverse fixture.
Barcelona show they could go all the way
It was ultimately a field day for Barcelona, who made easy work of carving open Man City's midfield and backline. Without Roebuck in goal, it could have been a humiliating scoreline for the WSL heavyweights. But Oshoala and substitutes Lieke Martens and Jenni Hermoso proved to be tough to handle as they relentlessly pressured City throughout the 90.
Adding a strong Champions League run to their unstoppable Primera Iberdrola season, it doesn't look like anything will shift Barcelona's hunger for silverware. They are yet to drop a single point in the league, winning every one of their fixtures and securing a maximum of 60 points so far.
A 3-0 win is a huge advantage for Lluis Cortes and his team. If they can replicate this afternoon's performance, it'll be smooth sailing into the semi-finals of the competition and one step closer to their first ever Champions League title.News Now - Sport News