For the first time in six seasons, there will be a new Women’s Champions League winner.
Paris Saint-Germain’s stunning quarterfinal comeback against perennial champion Lyon finally ended one of the most dominant dynasties in modern football.
Lyon has won the last five Women’s Champions League titles and during this season’s competition had looked in imperious form, making itself favorite to win a sixth consecutive crown.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, PSG got off the worst possible start imaginable in Sunday’s second leg as Catarina Macario gave Lyon the lead inside five minutes.
PSG now had a mountain to climb, but this side has been inching gradually closer to Lyon both domestically and in Europe over recent seasons.
Grace Geyoro kick-started the comeback on the 26th minute, firing home brilliantly at the near post past the outstretched arm of Lyon goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, before Wendy Renard’s calamitous own goal gifted PSG the second goal it needed to level the tie at 2-2.
With the tie finely balanced and PSG heading through to the semifinals on the away goals rule, Lyon began to press relentlessly in search of a winner.
For all the pressure that teams had put Lyon under in the Champions League over recent years, there seemed to be an aura of invisibility that hovered around this team.
In the dying moments of the game, it looked as though Lyon would indeed continue its remarkable winning streak in this competition.
Renard’s flicked header in the box found its way to Melvine Malard in front of goal, but the forward’s effort was inexplicably kept out by the glove of PSG goalkeeper Christiane Endler.
Three of Lyon’s players put their heads in their hands and Malard shot a look of sheer disbelief towards the team’s bench, scarcely able to believe that shot had been kept out.
It was a fitting moment that capped of a remarkable week for Endler, widely regarded the best goalkeeper in the world. On Tuesday, she led the Chilean women’s national football team to its first ever Olympic Games.
After dethroning the team many thought to be unbeatable, PSG will arguably be the favorite to go on and win this season’s competition. However, the road ahead remains fraught with dangers.
Up next for PSG is perhaps the most in-form team in Europe, current Spanish league leader Barcelona. The Catalan club is currently 14 points ahead of second place Levante, winning all 23 of its games so far this season.
The team has scored an astonishing 119 goals in those games and conceded just four.
Though the outcome to this season’s competition may yet be unknown, what is for certain is there will be a new name etched on the trophy for the first time in six years.