Craven Cottage played hosted to the 2011 UEFA Women’s Champions League final and Ryan Keaney was there to witness Lyon win their first European title.

Olympique Lyonnais exacted revenge on FFC Turbine Potsdam to win the 2011 UEFA Women’s Champions League with goals from Wendie Renard and substitute Lara Dickenmann coming in each half. The two clubs had faced off for the trophy twelve months ago and on that occasion, Potsdam lifted the trophy after a tense 120 minutes and an even twitchier penalty shoot-out.

The game, played in front of a vocal crowd at Craven Cottage filled with supporters for both sides, started with both teams on the front foot. Neither team seemed keen to replicate the scoreless tie they had played out in the 2010 final and looked eager to open the scoring as quickly as possible. Lyon’s goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi had to be alert to make two early stops, first from Viola Odebrecht who was picked out at the back post and then to deny a drive from Fatmire Bajramaj, who was playing her last game for Potsdam before moving to FFC Frankfurt.

Having survived the early flurry from the powerful Potsdam front-line, Lyon’s system allowed them to take a hold on the first half. Their German opponents started with a narrow three at the back and that forced their wide midfielders to track Lyon’s wingers Élodie Thomis and Louisa Necib who hugged their respective touchlines. With players starting deeper than they would have liked, Amandine Henry, Shirley Cruz Traña and Camille Abily were able to dominate the midfield and keep their side pushing forward.

Thomis was particularly utilised once it was established that she had the constant beating of Tabea Kemme who forced to play almost as a left-back. Kemme, more at home taking on players rather than trying to stop them, didn’t have any confidence her weaker left foots and had a torried time against the very nippy winger who linked up Swedish striker Lotta Schelin very well. From one quick move, Thomis should really have put Lyon into an early lead as she bounded into the area unmarked. Babett Peter decided against engaging the French international and forced her into a decision. Instead of shooting the number 12 ended up squaring the ball tamely to the feet of the German defender.

It was only a brief reprieve however and Lyon got the goal they deserved just before the half hour. Necib, who had hit the post from an earlier corner, caused chaos with her delivery into the six yard area; and where Schelin had been denied by Anna Felicitas Sarholz, Renard pounced on the rebound to scramble the ball in.

Potsdam regrouped quickly from the goal and started to threaten towards the end of the half. They continued their momentum into the second period and should really have been level within 60 seconds. Inka Wesley fluffed a header with the goal at her mercy. The Germans were spurred by every successful breach of the Lyon backline and an equaliser appeared to be imminent. Barmaraj was seeing more and more of the ball and running straight at the terrified French defence. One mazing run saw her set-up Isabel Kerschowski only for Bouhaddi to save once again with her feet. Kerschowski then nearly turned provider for Anja Mittag, who was let down at the crucial moment by poor control.

Having wasted two glorious chances, the heads of some Potsdam players dropped. Had their leading striker Yūki Nagasato not failed to recover from an injury picked up on international duty with Japan things may have very been different but with the line-up deployed, they couldn’t find a way past the impressive Bouhaddi.

Lyon retained their threat on the break by replacing their hard-working wingers with fresh legs and it was the two replacements that linked up to put the game beyond doubt. Dickenmann drifted into the area off the shoulder of her marker and was picked out by Eugénie Le Sommer. The Swiss international captain controlled the ball with a superb first touch and then placed her shot beyond Barholz.

The goal was a killer blow to Potsdam. They were unable to even muster an attempt at a consolation as Lyon became the first French winners of the Women’s Champions League trophy.

To read more of Ryan’s work follow him on twitter or check out his website The 1st Eleven.

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