The Week in Women’s Football: Breaking down Champions League results; Barcelona & Chelsea march on

This week we look at the second-round results for the 2022-23 Women’s Champions League two-leg ties, with the winners going on to the group stage; we also present the draw results for the four groups and some highlights from the first two rounds of matches towards the end of October.

UEFA Women’s Champions League 2022-23

Last season in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, in the first campaign with the 16-team group stage, Zhytlobud-1 Kharkiv was the only team from Central and Eastern Europe to qualify. This season, entering the second stage, at least one nation was guaranteed with Zhytlobud-2 Kharkiv of Ukraine facing Vllaznia of Albania, but also Slavia Prague (vs. Valur of Iceland) and Sparta Prague (vs. Roma) were both competitive in their first-round matches, though SFK 2000 Sarajevo of Bosnia and Herzegovina fell to Zurich 7-0 in their first leg at home. In the second legs, Vllaznia surprised the Ukrainians with a late winner to advance as did Slavia Prague; so for 2022-23, there are two central European teams competing in the group stage. Both teams have quality players and should not be underestimated.

FC Zürich of Switzerland and St. Pölten of Austria, who both made the old round of 16 but missed out on the group stage last season, advanced to the group stage in 2022-23. Benfica of Portugal returned again to the group stage, which they made in 2021-22 in their second WCL season, though Hacken (Sweden) and Koge (Denmark) did not repeat this year.

In 2022-23, Sarajevo of (Bosnia and Herzegovina) have become the first team to compete 20 seasons in a row; their 20 entries is also a joint record. Clubs participating in their WCL debuts in the second-round home and away legs included: Brann of Norway (known until 2021 as Sandviken), KuPS of Finland, Rangers of Scotland, Real Sociedad of Spain and Roma of Italy—with only Roma moving onto the group stage.

We look at the rosters of the teams leaving the competition at this stage, as we did in the previous round’s qualifying groups (see last month’s columns: The Week in Women’s Football: Annual review of UEFA Champions League qualifying group stage – Tribal Football and The Week in Women’s Football: Annual review of UEFA Champions League qualifying group stage – Part Two – Tribal Football).

Valur (ICE) vs. Slavia Prague (CZE) (0-1; 0-0–0-1 on aggregate)

In the first leg on September 21, Terza Kozarova (30) of the Czech Republic scored the only goal in the 26th minute for Slavia Prague’s 1-0 win over Valur. She is a long-time international who has won 10 league titles at home with Slavia and Sparta Prague. Slavia Prague held Valur scoreless in the second leg on September 28 at home and advanced to the Round of 16 with a 1-0 aggregate advantage.

Valur won the Iceland Women’s League in 2022 with 43 points after 18 games, with surprising Starjnan hoping for a second WCL spot for 2023-24 on 37 points, jumping ahead of 2022-23 WCL side Breidablik, who finished third with 33 points as they had a stuttering finish of only one win and two ties in their final six matches. Valur had an all-domestic side except for three North American college graduates. American forward Cyera Makenzie Hintzen (24) had eight goals in fourteen matches in her second season with the club. She played at the University of Texas and with the U.S. U-19 national team; she was drafted by the Utah Royals (now Kansas City NWSL) in the fourth round (#31 overall) of the 2020 draft, but did not see action at the club.

Hintzen will spend the winter with Perth Glory in Australia’s A-League Women for the second consecutive season, having scored 5 goals in 8 matches in 2021-22. Midfielder Brookelynn Paige Entz (23) finished with 1 goal in 11 matches in her first season at Valur and played at Kansas State University. Venezuelan international forward Mariana Speckmaier (24) played only for 83 minutes in 6 games after playing 3 games last season with the NWSL Champions Washington Spirit. She had signed with CSKA Moscow just before the invasion of Ukraine but then joined the Icelandic powerhouse. She played at Clemson University in South Carolina and was on her national squad at the Copa America Femenine in July in Colombia.

Paris St. Germain (FRA) vs. Hacken (SWE) (2-1; 2-0—4-1 on aggregate)

In the first leg on September 21 in Paris, French international forward Kaddiatou Diani scored the winner four minutes from time in a 2-1 victory. In the second leg in Gothenburg on September 28, Diani scored again on the hour mark—7 minutes after Dutch international Lieke Martens gave PSG a 1-0 advantage—for a 2-0 win and advancement to the Group Stage with a 4-1 total aggregate victory. Martens also scored in the first leg. Long-time French international goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi (with 149 caps), who played last season on loan to OL Reign from Olympique Lyonnaise, lined-up for PSG (in her first season with the club) to become the goalkeeper with the most ever appearances in the UEFA Women’s Championships with 78, surpassing former Republic of Ireland international and Arsenal’s Emma Byrne, while PSG and Swiss international forward Ramona Bachmann became the fifth player overall to reach 80 appearances.

Hacken had a number of imports including:

  • Goalkeeper Livia Peng (20) of Switzerland.
  • Defender Aivi Luik (37) of Australia—a current member of the Australian national team who has played in Canada, the U.S., Ukraine, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, England, Spain and Italy and is in her second spell in Sweden, after playing for Kalmar in 2018.
  • Defender Anna Csiki (22), a full Hungarian international, with 2022 being her third season in Sweden’s top flight.
  • Defender Emily Madril (23) of the USA (ex-Florida State University), who is on a short-term loan from the NWSL and then will enter the 2023 league draft this winter (See more in: The Week in Women’s Football: NWSL top 6 review; Wolfsburg alliance; ex-Man Utd coach Stoney outstanding – Tribal Football).
  • Midfielder Dora Zeller (27) of Hungary has over 50 caps and is in her first season with Hacken, after playing in Germany since 2014 with Hoffenhem and Leverkusen.
  • Midfielder Andrine Hegerberg (29) of Norway has played in England for two seasons with Birmingham City, with PSG in France, Roma in Italy and Turbine Potsdam in Germany. Hegerberg has 2 regular season goals in 19 matches in her first season with Hacken.
  • Forward Stine Larsen (26) of Denmark has over 60 national team caps; she played at the Women’s EURO this summer and won a runner’s-up medal in 2017 as Denmark fell to host side Netherlands. She scored 7 goals in 21 regular season games for Hacken in 2022, her second season with the club.
  • Forward Aisha Masaka (18) of Tanzania, who played at home with Young Africans and for the full national team.
  • Forward Mille Gejl (22) of Denmark is a full international who was on the 2022 Women’s EURO side this summer in England and scored 6 goals in 19 regular season matches in her second season with the club.

Rangers (SCO) vs. Benfica (POR) (2-3; 1-2—3-5 after extra time)

On September 20, at Ibrox in Glasgow, Jamaican international Kayla McCoy scored twice for the home side, which was offset by a brace by Brazilian international Ana Vitoria for Benfica. Rangers and New Zealand international goalkeeper Victoria Esson (31)—in her first season at the club after moving from Sand in Germany—was credited with Benfica’s winning goal 12 minutes from time.

On September 28, 16-year-old Scottish native Emma Watson scored for Rangers three minutes into the game in Portugal to knot the aggregate scores 3-3 and send the game to extra time. Canadian international Cloe Lacasse—who was just selected that day for Canada’s October internationals against Argentina and Morocco in Jerez, Spain (Canada won both matches by 2-0 and 4-0 score lines, respectively)—restored Benfica’s advantage with a 93rd minute goal in the overtime period. Full Portuguese international Jessica Silva (who played with Kansas City in the NWSL last season and previously for Olympique Lyon in France as well as in Sweden and Spain) added a buffer goal for Benfica with one minute left in extra time for a 2-1 match victory and a 5-3 aggregate win for the Portuguese side. talked with Canadian Women’s National Team head coach Bev Priestman ahead of their September friendlies versus Australia, in which Benfica’s Cloe Lacasse appeared in both wins as a second half substitute and then scored the second goal in Canada’s 2-0 win over Argentina as a substitute on October 6; she then started in Canada’s 4-0 win over Morocco on October 10, with both games held in Spain.

This reporter asked Priestman about the possibility of Cloe Lacasse joining a higher profile league in Europe rather than Portugal—albeit Benfica had advanced to the second round of the WCL for the second consecutive year (they debuted in the WCL in the 2020-21 season)—and her thoughts on Lacasse’s progression with the national team; the head coach replied, “Cloe had some options on the table [to transfer clubs] but Benfica will do anything to keep Cloe because she scores goals for them; I was recently with the Portugal coach and he was raving about Cloe, which was fantastic to see…. I would have liked to have played Cloe more in CONCACAF [W Championship] qualifiers but she knows what she needs to do at our level to keep progressing. I am excited…She scores week in and week out for Benfica and that [has] served her well so far. She has that finishing role [as a substitute] but she would like to see more minutes and impacting goals for Canada.”

Since joining Benfica in July of 2019, she has scored 72 goals in 97 matches, an incredibly productive clip.

Rangers did well in their first WCL campaign and their imports included:

  • Defender Lisa Martinez (22) of France.
  • Goalkeeper Victoria Essen (31) of New Zealand.
  • Defender Hannah Davidson (25) of the U.S.—ex-Northwestern University in Chicago and who played last season with AIK of Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Defender Lisa Martinez (22) of France. A native of Montpellier, which was her first club, returned to Rangers where she had a short loan spell n 2019-20. She has been capped at multiple youth levels by France.
  • Defender Maddie Noff (26) of the U.S.—she was recently transferred by the Kansas City Current last month to Rangers (See: The Week in Women’s Football: NWSL top 6 review; Wolfsburg alliance; ex-Man Utd coach Stoney outstanding – Tribal Football).
  • Midfielder Dina Orschmann (24) of Germany—she has been capped at multiple youth levels and played in the U.S. at the University of Central Florida; she joined Rangers this season from Turbine Potsdam at home.
  • Midfielder Tessel Middag (29) of Netherlands is nearing 50 caps for her national side and joined Rangers this season after a year at Fiorentina, she previously played at West Ham United and Manchester United in the WSL for 5 seasons.
  • Forward Jenny Danielsson (28) of Finland is a full international who played at the Women’s EURO this past summer and who, like Hannah Davidson, also played last season with AIK in Sweden.
  • Forward Kayla McCoy Jamaica (26) was born in the U.S., played collegiate at Duke University and for the Houston Dash. In 2018 she was on the U.S. U-23 national team and the next year played in the WWC Finals in France for Jamaica.

Rangers also was loaded with Scottish internationals including Jane Ross and Lizzie Arnot—who both played for Manchester United—while Jenna Fife, Nicola Docherty, Rachel McLauchlan and Sam Kerr were all selected for the national team for the UEFA Playoffs for the 2023 Women’s World Cup Qualifiers against Austria and the Republic of Ireland.

Vorskla-Kharkiv-2 (UKR) vs. Vllaznia (ALB) (1-1;1-2—2-3 on aggregate)

Ukraine’s Vorskla-Kharkiv and Vllaznia of Albania ended in a 1-1 deadlock in the first leg on September 21, which was held in Albania because of the war in Ukraine. In the second leg in Shkoder on September 28, the Albanian side took the lead through American Tarah Patterson (23—who played at Division II school University of Colorado—Colorado Springs) in the 35th minute, but Vorskla-Kharkiv-2 tied the match in the 85th minute through Ukrainian international defender Kateryna Korsun’s (27) goal. Albanian international midfielder (who grew up in nearby Kosovo) Gresa Berisha (24) scored the winner for Vllaznia three minutes later from a golazo on a half volley rocket.

Vorskla-Kharkiv-2 (UKR) used an all-Ukrainian side except for two imports:

  • Midfielder Olga Osipyan (27) of Armenia, who is a full international.
  • Defender Tristan Corneil (28) of Canada has won two league titles in Lithuania with Gintra and also played in Sweden. She went to the University of the Fraser Valley’s (Abbotsford, B.C., outside Vancouver), and was the first women’s football alumni to go pro, signing first with Swedish First Division (third tier) side women’s soccer club Rynninge IK, based in Orebro. The Swedish second and third division is a fairly common path to enter European club ball after finishing college at less well-known institutions.

Defender Tristan Cornell in action at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Colombia, Canada.

Photo courtesy of the University of the Fraser Valley.

KuPS Kuopio (FIN) vs. St. Polten (AUT) (0-1; 2-2 after extra time—2-3 on aggregate)

On September 21, in Kuopio, Finland, Slovenian international forward Mateja Zver (34)—who has won six league titles at St. Polten since joining in the fall of 2015—scored the only goal of the match three minutes before halftime. On September 28 in a goal fest, KuPS scored twice within four minutes around the half hour mark to deadlock the aggregate after Zver’s early goal in the 6th minute for St. Polten. In extra time, Zver scored again just two minutes before the end of the 30-minute extra time session. All credit to the Finnish side on their WCL debut.

KUPS Kuopio imports included:

  • Defender Gabriella Cuevas (29) is in her second season with KuPS and was with Gotham FC of the NWSL in 2018 but didn’t play and then moved to Israel. She plays internationally for the Dominican Republic but was born in the United States and played at the University of Connecticut and Monmouth University.
  • Defender Maja Gothberg (25) is in her third season with KuPS and moved over for the 2020 season from her native Sweden, where she was capped at the U-19 level.
  • Midfielder Lavdije Begoli (29) plays for Albania, was born in Kosovo and has played in Finland since 2017; she is starting her third season at KuPS after moving from KFF Hajvalia of Kosovo. She had 25 goals in 19 games this season and led the regular season Finnish league Golden Boot scoring table.
  • Forward Gentjana Rochi (27) is a North Macedonian international and scored 22 goals in 21 games during the 2022 season to finish second in the Golden Boot race to her teammate Begoli; she had 26 goals in 2021 when she won the Golden Boot title—her third in the Finnish top tier Kansallinen Liiga. She is in her fourth season with the club and has played professionally in Germany.
  • Forward Jada Talley (23) of the U.S. played at USC in Los Angeles and this season was a national team replacement team for the KC Current with one appearance; she signed with the Portland Thorns later in the summer but did not see any game time there and then joined KuPS.

HB Koge (DEN) vs. Juventus (ITA) (1-1; 0-2—1-3 on aggregate)

On September 20, American Maddie Pokorny (25) scored the first goal of the game for Koge in the 8th minute. She is in her third season with the club—winning league titles in both her previous two campaigns and scored 10 goals in 24 league matches last year—with 2 goals in 6 matches thus far in the 2022/23 season. Swedish international defender Elsa Nilden, who played for three seasons with Brighton in England, tied up the match in the 21st minute for Juventus as the teams then travelled to Turin for the second leg.

Juventus took the second leg at home on September 28, a 2-0 win, with goals from Iceland international veteran striker Sara Bork Gunnarsdottir (31)—in her first season with Juve after moving from Olympique Lyonnais this summer—and Italian international striker Sofia Cantore (22), who joined Juve from Sassulo this summer. Italian international striker Arianna Caruso (22), who scored 8 goals in 19 games last season and is in her sixth season with the Turin-based side, played only in the first leg match for the talent-laden side.

Koge, an American-owned club, has been utilizing a core of Americans for a few seasons among their seven imports

  • Goalkeeper Bridgette Skiba (22) of the U.S. from Oregon State University.
  • Defender Andrea Norheim (23) of Norway.
  • Midfielder Yujie Zhao (23) from China, who has been capped at the full and youth levels, played collegiately at Florida State University.
  • Forward Kyra Carusa (26) with the Republic of Ireland national team was born in San Diego in the U.S. and played at Stanford and Georgetown Universities. She played at Le Havre in France in 2019 and then moved to Koge in 2020. She played for the U.S. at the U-23 level but was approached by Ireland (qualifying through her grandparents) and was first capped in February 2020. She has been an impactful addition as the team made the UEFA Playoffs for next summer’s WWC and was also on the side that qualified for the 2023 Women’s World Cup by defeating Scotland (1-0) in Glasgow (see last week’s column: The Week in Women’s Football: UEFA World Cup playoffs – Ireland shocks us all – Tribal Football).
  • Forward Nicole Kozlova (22) of Ukraine, who interviewed last year when she was playing for Ukraine in the UEFA Women’s EURO Qualifiers and at Virginia Tech University, grew up in Toronto, Canada (see: The Week in Women’s Football: Interview with Ukraine star Kozlova; Damallsvenskan shock; Spirit visit Qatar – Tribal Football).
  • Forward Maddie Pokorny (25) of the U.S. played at St. Louis University and with the Chicago Red Stars in 2019 as a National Team replacement player.
  • Forward Mollie Belisle (23) of the U.S. played collegiately at the University of Georgia.

SRK Sarajevo (BIH) vs. Zurich (SUI) (0-7; 0-3—0-10 on aggregate)

On September 21, in the first leg away, Swiss international Fabienne Humm (35), who has won 9 league titles with Zurich in Switzerland and was a part of the Swiss side at the Women’s EUROs this summer in England, scored a hat-trick in Zurich’s dismantling of the Bosnia and Herzegovina side (7-0). On September 28, Zurich extended the aggregate score to double figures (10-0) with a 3-0 win, with two goals from Swiss international midfielder Seraina Severin (22)—who has won three Nationalliga A Women titles with Zurich—and one by teenager and Switzerland youth international forward Alayah Pilgrim (19).

SFK 2000 Sarajevo (BIH) had three imports on their squad

  • Defender Sanja Nedic (27), a Montenegro international who won an Albanian league title with Vllaznia in 2018-19 and played at home with ZFK Ekonomist in Niksic.
  • Midfielder Adrijana Trisic (28) of Serbia.
  • Forward Krstina Tanaskovic (19), who was a Serbian U-19 international.

Brann (NOR) vs Rosengard (SWE) (1-1;1-3—2-4 on aggregate)

On September 21, Brann took the lead in the 20th minute through Iceland international forward Svava Gudmundsdottir (26), who joined the club this season after two years with Bordeaux in France and has 5 league goals in 20 matches for Brann in the 2022 campaign. Brann topped the regular season table in 2022 and has a healthy 5-point lead in the 4-team championship round over second place Valerenga, with two matches to play. For Rosengard, their Danish international midfielder Olivia Holdt (21) scored with 12 minutes left to level the scores as the teams moved south to Malmo in Sweden to decide the tie.

On September 28, Mimmi Larsson (28) scored a brace for Rosengard in their 3-1 win over Brann, with Brann scoring their goal in the 80th minute after the Swedish side had built a 3-0 margin in the match. Larsson is in her third season with Rosengard. She was on the 2019 WWC side for Sweden, has over 30 caps and has never played outside her country.

Brann had two imports on their roster:

  • Midfielder Tameka Yallop (31) of Australia, who has over a century of caps for the Matildas.
  • Forward Svava Gudmundsdottir (26) of Iceland, a full international who has played at home, in Sweden with Kristianstads and briefly last season with Bordeaux in France.

Brann Head Coach Olli (Oliver) Harder is a native of New Zealand and played goalkeeper at home. He has coached Kelpp Women in Norway, West Ham United Women in England and moved this summer to join SK Brann. He has also coached in the U.S. and China.

Sparta Prague (CZE) vs Roma (ITA) (1-2; 1-4—2-6 on aggregate)

On September 21 in Zlin, Sparta Prague took the lead in the 51st minute through veteran Czech Republic international Lucie Martinkova (36), who has over 110 caps for her national team. Martinkova won 7 league titles with Sparta over the years and played for Orebro in Sweden, finishing as Damallsvenskan runners-up in 2014. In a brilliant fightback, Italian international defender Elisa Bartoli (31), in her fifth season at the club, tied it up in the 77th minute and then Norwegian international forward Emilie Haavi (30) scored in the 90th minute for the 2-1 Roma win. Haavi is in her second year at Roma after a long career at home in Norway with Lillestrom and Roa, except for playing in 7 games with the now defunct Boston Breakers in the NWSL in the 2017 season.

On September 29, Sparta gave Czech Republic fans hope that two sides from the city (along with Slavia) would make the 16-team group stage as Czech Republic international defender Petra Bertholdova (37) deadlock the aggregate scores with a 25-minute goal—the long-time Sparta player has 7 league titles and 6 runners-up finishes with the side. Roma took the lead again ten minutes later from Austrian international Carina Wenninger (31), who is in her first year at the club after a long career at Bayern Munich. In the second half, Roma added goals by Brazilian international Andressa Alves (29—in her fourth year at Roma after moving from Barcelona in Spain), Japanese international Moeka Minami (23) (see more on Minami in our column earlier this month: The Week in Women’s Football: Global transfers wrap-up; Chelsea beat Arsenal for Cankovic – Tribal Football) and Haavi (30), who scored her second goal in two games. WCL debutants Roma were through to the Group Stage in a tremendous first European season thus far for the Italian side.

Sparta Prague utilized two American imports—both midfielders—plus one from Portugal and one from Slovakia:

  • Goalkeeper Patricia Chladekova (25) of Slovakia.
  • Midfielder Mariana Pereifa Jaleca (24) of Portugal. She was capped at the U-16 level by Portugal, played collegiately in the United States at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania and professionally in Finland and Turkey before moving to the Czech Republic.
  • Midfielder Amber Tripp (24) of the U.S. played at Utah Valley University where she had 12 goals and 14 assists for her career.
  • Midfielder Lauren Chang (23) of the U.S. played collegiately at the University of South Carolina.

Arsenal (ENG) vs Ajax (NED) (2-2; 1-0—3-2 on aggregate)

On September 20, Dutch international Romee Leuchter (21), who scored 25 goals in 24 matches in her first season with Ajax of the Netherlands in 2021-22 after playing at PSV Eindhoven, scored a brace to give Ajax a surprising 2-2 tie in London with Arsenal. For the Gunners, Swedish international Stina Blackstenius and Scottish international midfielder Kim Little—who played in 6 matches on loan with OL Reign in Seattle this summer—scored from the penalty spot. In the second leg on September 28, Netherlands international Viv Meidema scored the only goal early in the second half to send Arsenal into the WCL Group Stage for the second consecutive year, for a 1-0 win and 3-2 aggregate result over Ajax, which utilized an entirely home-based roster.

Rosenborg (NOR) vs Real Madrid (ESP) (0-3;1-2—1-5 on aggregate)

On September 21, Caroline Weir again looks like the signing of the summer in Europe as she scored twice to help Real build a nice 3-0 advantage in Trondheim in the north of Norway. She previously scored the only goal of the first-round qualifier to knock her former club, Manchester City, out of the competition. On September 28, Weir scored early in the second half followed by a goal on the hour mark by Spanish international forward Athenea del Castillo (21)—who was on the Women’s EURO Final side for Spain this summer in England—to see out Real Madrid to a 2-1 win and advance to the group stage 5-1 on aggregate.

Rosenborg used an all-Norwegian roster except for one import from Denmark (Goalkeeper Lene Christensen—22) and one from Iceland (midfielder Selma Sol Magnusdottier—24).

Real Sociedad (ESP) vs. Bayern Munich (GER) (0-1; 1-3—1-4 on aggregate)

On September 20, Lea Schuller scored just before the halftime break for Bayern Munich to take a crucial 1-0 lead back home from San Sebastian. Real Sociedad attracted 11, 479 to their first ever Women’s Champions League match, which was a record for the qualifications stage of the competition. On September 29, Bayern coasted to a 3-1 win at home over Real Sociedad for a 4-1 aggregate win, with German international midfielder Linda Dallmann (28)—in her fourth season at the club after a long spell at SGS Essen—scoring a brace and Lea Schuller (24)—in her third season at Munch after also playing for years with Essen—adding a goal.

Six of Real Sociedad’s eight imports were from other European countries: Germany, France, Serbia, Portugal, Finland and Norway. The other two came from South America:

  • Manuela Vanegas (21) is a full international for Colombia and played in the Copa America Femenina; she first went to Spain to join Espanyol for the 2020-21 season and is in her second season at Real Sociedad.
  • Gabriela Garcia (25) has played for Venezuela at the full, U-20 and U-17 levels and was also her nation’s roster for the Copa America Femenina over the summer. She is in her second season at Real Sociedad after four seasons with Deportivo La Coruna; she previously played at home for Estudiantes de Guarico in Calabozo.

UEFA WCL Group Stage Draw and Results from the First Two Rounds of Matches

The draw for the Group Stage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League is below, with the six matches held in October, November and December, 2022.

Group A: Chelsea, Paris SG, Real Madrid, Vllaznia

Group B: Wolfsburg, Slavia Prague St. Polten, Roma.

Group C: Lyon, Arsenal, Juventus, Zurich

Group D: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Rosengard, Benfica

In the first round of group stage matches on October 19, Arsenal of England shocked home side and reigning Women’s Champions League titleholders Olympique Lyonnaise (having won eight titles in total) 5-1, with English international Beth Mead and Australian international Caitlin Foord both scoring braces. That same day, Brazilian international Geyse Ferreira (24—who moved this season from Madrid CFF) scored twice as last-season’s WCL runners-up Barcelona of Spain easily dispatched Benfica of Portugal 9-0. The next day, Chelsea did the double for English sides over French clubs with a Millie Bright (29) goal in the 27th minute for the only goal against home side Paris St. German. In another close game, home side Juventus defeated Slavia Prague 1-0 on a Valentina Gacinti (28, who played last season at Fiorentina and Milan and scored 10 goals combined in 18 games) tally in the 62nd minute. This year, Gacinti has scored 4 goals in 6 regular season matches.

In round 2 on October 26, PSG bounced back from their loss to Chelsea to tie Real Madrid 0-0 in Spain. Chelsea unleashed its offense against Vllaznia 8-0 in London, with Australian international Sam Kerr scoring four goals and Danish international Pernille Harder contributing three goals and adding an assist. Norwegian international Guro Reiten contributed four assists for the Gunners and is in her fourth season with the two-time reigning WSL Champions. Wolfsburg went to Slava Prague and came home with a 2-0 win. The most entertaining game of the day was in St. Polten when Roma fought back from a 2-0 deficit in the 46th minute to take a 4-3 win, with Roma scoring four goals within eleven minutes, with the two teams contributing three goals (Roma with two) in the last ten minutes of the match.

In the four second round matches on October 27, Olympique Lyonnaise continued their surprisingly slow start to group play with a 1-1 draw in Turin to Juventus. U.S. international midfielder Lindsay Horan (28) scored the opener for OL but their French international forward Melvine Malard (22) put the ball through her own net early in the second half for the final result. Elsewhere, Barcelona used a first half brace from Spanish international forward Aitana Bonmati (24), while fellow Spanish international Mariona Caldente (26) did the same in the second half for a 4-1 win in Malmo, Sweden while Arsenal again had their goalscoring boots on in a 3-1 win over FC Zurich, with their first year Swedish international forward (from Juventus) Lina Hurtig (27) scoring twice. The most exciting match was in Lisbon as Benfica held a 2-0 lead at the hour mark, but Bayern Munich scored 3 goals in the last twenty-three minutes, with English international new signing Georgia Stanway scoring twice, the tying goal in the 83rd minute and the winner in the 98th minute. Brazilian international forward Nycole Raysla scored Benfica’s first goal in the 42nd minute from a Cloe Lacasse assist (see above), with the Canadian international doubling the Lisbon’s side lead on the hour mark.

After two games, Chelsea tops Group A with 6 points, while Real Madrid are on 4 points, followed by PSG (1 point) and Vllaznia (0 points).

In Group B, Wolfsburg and Roma are undefeated with 6 points, while Slavia Prague and St. Polten are pointless.

In Group C, Arsenal leads the group (6 points) with Juventus second (4 points) ahead of Olympique Lyonnais (1 point) and FC Zurich (0 points).

In Group D, Barcelona and Bayern Munich head the table on 6 points each (though Barca had a sizeable advantage in goal difference over the German side at +12 vs. +2), with Rosengard and Benfica sitting on 0 points.

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham is on the global game of women’s football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

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