Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona’s Women’s Champions League semi-final tie is finely poised after Sunday’s first leg ended 1-1.
Barca host the French capital side for the return leg next week with a potentially vital away goal from Jenni Hermoso for the opener after 12 minutes against her former club.
This season’s top scorer was increasing her tally to six in a tightly contested match at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
But what could have been a tricky tie to turn around for PSG suddenly looked a good deal more accessible after Alana Cook’s 21st-minute leveller.
The American was the surprise ingredient in PSG coach Olivier Echouafni’s team and was deployed as a right-back with Canadian Ashley Lawrence moving up into attack to help fill the void left by the explosive but injured Kadidiatou Diani.
PSG had knocked out multiple champions Lyon in the quarter-finals but they travel to Spain with their ticket to the May 16 final in Gothenburg far from punched.
Aside from Cook’s decisive intervention they also had goalkeeper Christiane Endler to thank for keeping them in the hunt after some fine saves to deal with notably an early chance from Caroline Graham Hansen, an attempt at a double from Hermoso, and Alexia Putellas’ 53rd-minute free-kick.
“(Endler) is the one who’s allowed us to stay on course to qualify. It wasn’t easy for her with the wind. But in terms of what she did, we’re no longer surprised. We know what she’s capable of,” said Echouafni
On hand to watch the game was Mauricio Pochettino, whose PSG’s men are preparing for their Champions League semi-final against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Bayern Munich defeated Chelsea 2-1 at home in the first leg of their semi-final tie.
Sydney Lohmann headed the Germans ahead inside 15 minutes after Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger failed to collect a cross.
Chelsea midfielder Melanie Leupolz equalised in fortuitous circumstances when a defensive header at a free-kick smacked against the Germany international and looped into the far corner.
Hanna Glas grabbed the winner as she curled beyond Berger just before the hour, with Bayern holding on as Chelsea’s Ji So-Yun rattled the crossbar with a fierce strike from distance.