Thursday 24 October 2019

Tale of two team-mates as Lyon devour Barcelona

Ada Hegerberg: Hat-trick. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Ada Hegerberg: Hat-trick. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images

Luke Edwards

In the end, there was only ever likely to be one winner, yet even as Lucy Bronze celebrated Lyon's crushing 4-1 victory over Barcelona in the Women's Champions League final, she could not help but feel sorry for one of the vanquished.

Toni Duggan had left the stadium minutes earlier, one of the first Barca players to exit the dressing room, her face a mixture of anger and devastation, eyes still wet with tears spilled after the final whistle.

Most of Barcelona's players had a more shell-shocked look, but Duggan was furious. Her first Champions League final had been more than deflating, it bordered on torturous. Lyon had the game won inside half an hour - Ada Hegerberg scoring a 16-minute hat-trick - and toyed with the Spanish club after that.

Bronze knew it had hurt her England team-mate, she would have liked to have spared her the humiliation if she could, but this is what Lyon do. All she could do was give her friend a hug.

"I just told her we would have to win the World Cup together," said Bronze, who had helped in two of Lyon's goals, cementing her place among the global elite.

"I just grabbed her after the game, she was really upset and I totally understand. She played so hard, she worked so hard and I'm devastated for her as much as I'm delighted for myself. It's unfortunate for her, but we couldn't both win, could we?"

Lyon are likely to cause plenty more pain and suffering in the future. This was their fourth successive Champions League triumph to go with their 13 French titles in a row and there is not a more dominant team in the world.

"Apparently, there isn't a better team, with a better record, in any sport," Bronze added with a laugh. "The success speaks for itself and the team are still hungry for more.

"I don't have sympathy for the rest, I think it pushes them even harder. Look at how far Barcelona have come, look at the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in England."

Barcelona have certainly improved, but while Duggan's move there to the Catalan club captured the imagination in 2017, Bronze knew she was joining the best club in Europe when she left that same summer.

"I wanted to come here and win, I didn't just want to be part of the occasion," said Duggan.

"I don't feel like it at the moment, but I'm sure we will look back and be proud of the fact we got here, but... I don't know whether it was nerves, but we didn't play like we normally do. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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