England defender Lucy Bronze limped off with a knee issue as Barcelona beat Chelsea 1-0 in the first leg of their Women’s Champions League semi-final at Stamford Bridge.
With Beth Mead and Leah Williamson both set to miss this summer’s World Cup, Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman will face a nervous wait to learn the extent of right-back Bronze’s injury.
Her side, the 2021 champions, drew first blood at the midway point of the tie after Caroline Graham Hansen’s goal put the Spaniards in the driving seat going into next week’s decider.
Emma Hayes’ team sought revenge for the 2021 final defeat at the hands of seven-time Primera Division winners Barcelona but history repeated itself as the Blues faced another Champions League setback.
Chelsea’s static defence allowed Graham Hansen to cut inside onto her left foot before delivering a wonderful curled strike which found the top corner to put Barcelona 1-0 up after four minutes.
Barcelona held 64 per cent possession in the first half and it began to show as both Graham Hansen and Geyse Ferreira were unfortunate not to double their side’s lead as they peppered Ann-Katrin Berger’s goal.
The hosts finally began to warm up. The potent Sam Kerr took advantage of the visitors’ high-line as her precise pass found Guro Reiten at the back stick whose composed finish was ruled out for offside.
Jonatan Giraldez’ side came fast out the blocks in the second half and trapped Chelsea in their own half which forced Berger to be called upon.
Hayes’ pre-match calls for her side to play the perfect game were scuppered as the Women’s Super League champions were outmuscled and worked by Salma Paralluelo and Geyse who both could have grabbed another.
Wiegman will hope Bronze’s 69th-minute injury does not rule her out long-term just days after Williamson’s anterior cruciate knee ligament problem was announced.
Barcelona almost netted another as Marta Torrejon’s header from a corner cannoned off the post.