The Barça women will be returning from Kazakhstan in a bittersweet mood after their Champions League debut ended 1-1. Ruth Garcia’s goal for the Catalans was matched in somewhat dubious fashion by BIIK’s equaliser, but the team is still nicely poised for the second leg at home.
After a long journey, the players had to adapt quickly to a difficult surface, stifling heat and a rock-solid opposing defence. They managed to control the possession but struggled do much with it, with Olga García the only player to truly stand out in the first 45 minutes. Her dazzling runs down the left were a constant threat to the Kazakhs, and she hit the bar with a fine shot on 21 minutes. But other than that, the first half passed largely without incident.
BIIK started taking more of an initiative after the break, and striker Gabelia really should have done better when she was gifted an opportunity. It was the wake-up call that Barça needed. Bárbara Latorre brought out the best in the local goalie with a powerfully driven strike. Melanie latched onto a clearance from the ensuing corner, and floated the ball onto the head of Ruth García to knock home the opening goal.
Barça looked well in control from then on. Diéguez had two golden chances to sentence the game, but BIIK were let off the hook. And then disaster struck with eight minutes left on the clock. The Barça defence looked to have safely dealt with a BIIK corner, but the referee judged the ball to have crossed the line. There was no time for Barça to conjure up a response, and the things ended 1-1. The Barça women now head back to Catalonia to start thinking about the second leg.