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The final Liga Iberdrola game of the season ended with a win - Barça Women completing the incredible feat of 30 wins from 30 games in the league and setting yet another record. On a sunny day at the Estadí Johan Cruyff, with temperatures hovering around 25 degrees Celsius, the 5,179 fans created a festive atmosphere and were treated to an entertaining and eventful match.
Goals by Paredes and Aitana in the first half set Barça on the way to the win, but despite an early red card in the second half for two yellows for centre-back, Van Dongen, Atlético continued to counter well as they had done throughout the game. Amanda Sampedro pulled one back to set up a tense finale, before Aitana received a straight red late on. The game ended 2-1, before a fitting post match tribute to the retiring Melanie Serrano, who received the bumps from her teammates, followed by a montage of her finest moments after her 517th appearance for the Club.
Coach Jonatan Giráldez named a strong side for the final game of season, with Martens back on the bench after a long time out injured. Barça wore special violet shirts in support of International Day Against LGTBI-phobia.
Atlético named the same line-up that beat Eibar last time out and they were hoping for a positive result to seal third place and Champions League qualification. Captain Amanda Sampedro was playing her final game after 20 years with Atlético Madrid.
Early control for Barça
Atlético came out of the blocks strongly but Barça kept their heads at the back, particularly Paños who came out quickly to smother after 9 minutes after a great ball down the left by Banini. Patri, Aitana, and Alexia gradually wrestled control in the middle of the pitch, with the home side’s main threats increasingly coming down the wings through Hansen and Rolfö.
One such attack led to a deep corner from María León on 11 minutes that reached Paredes, whose goal-bound header evaded everyone to make it 1-0, her 4th goal of the season. The second goal of the game came after another corner, this time Aitana picking up a cleared ball on the left, driving forward, with her cross-shot fooling Gallardo in the Atlético goal to make it 2-0 on 23 minutes.
Second half celebrations
The second half saw the home side continue to push forward and create chances, Rolfö again featuring strongly, almost sliding in to score from a cross from the right on 54 minutes. The game turned somewhat when Van Dongen received a second yellow for pushing down Hermoso in the box after great work down the left by Mariona. Alexia stepped up to take the penalty but Gallardo guessed correctly, diving to her left to save.
Despite being down to 10 players, Atlético were still looking dangerous on the counter, especially since Ajibade came on at half-time, and their efforts paid off when Amanda Sampedro scored a great volley to left of the goal after a clearance on 64 minutes in her final game for Atlético. Melanie Serrano then came on a minute later and was given a guard of honour by both teams. Nice touch!
The rest of the game was somewhat to and fro, with Barça pushing for another goal, now with both Oshoala and Martens on the pitch, the latter returning after a long injury absence, but Atlético looked just as likely to score on the counter, leading to Aitana receiving her marching orders after pulling back the lively Ajibade with no covering defender behind. Both sides were now down to 10 but the game ended 2-1, completing 30 wins in 30 games in the league. Absolutely incredible! Next stop: Turin on Saturday May 21 for the Women’s Champions League final.
Barça Women, 2
Atlético Madrid, 1
Barça Women: Paños, Paredes, María León, Graham Hansen (Martens, min. 81), Marta, Mariona, J.Hermoso (Oshoala, min. 63), Alexia Putellas, Patri Guijarro, Aitana Bonamatí, Rolfö (Melanie Serrano, min. 65).
Atlético Madrid: Gallardo, Laia Aleixandri, Van Dongen, Sampedro (Ludmila, min. 82) Maitane, Santos (Frisbie, min, 67), Menayo (Simon, min. 78), Meseguer, Kgatlana (Ajibade, min. 46), Shei, Banni (Castellanos, min. 66).
Goals: 1 – 0, Irene Paredes (min. 11); 2 – 0, Aitana Bonmatí (min. 23); 1 – 2, Sampedro (min. 64).
Referee: Arantza Gallestegui. Red cards for Aitana Bonmatí from Barça and Van Dongen from Atlético. Yellow cards for Irene Paredes from Barça and Maitane from Atlético.
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