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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Shirley Cruz does Costa Rica proud in Champions League Final

Costa Rican soccer phenomenon Shirley Cruz, star of the Paris Saint Germain club, came up short in her quest for another Champions League title Thursday when her team suffered a penalty shootout loss to domestic rival Lyon. However, Cruz delighted her fans back home and around the world by playing a masterful game.

Lyon goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi scored the winning spot-kick to clinch the title in Cardiff on Thursday, moments after PSG’s own keeper, Katarzyna Kiedrzynek, scuffed her effort wide. Bouhaddi stepped up to seal a fourth Champions League triumph for Lyon, getting the ball past a devastated Kiedrzynek.

After 120 scoreless minutes, the game went into a penalty shoot-out for the second year in a row. Once again, Lyon held their nerve.

Kiedrzynek initially looked set to be the hero after making a stunning save to deny Eugenie Le Sommer, with some help from the bar.

However, Bouhaddi kept out Grace Geyoro’s effort and soon the shoot-out went into sudden death.

After 12 of 14 penalties had been successfully converted, Kiedrzynek faltered and PSG’s hopes of a first continental triumph disappeared as they lost 7-6 on penalties.

The game was Cruz’s fifth Champions League Final. She won the championship twice when she played for Lyon in 2011 and 2012, and has played in the final for Paris Saint Germain in 2010, 2015 and 2017. PSG lost all three contests.

It was the third time a Champions League final had been decided on penalties, and Lyon have been involved in all three. They beat Wolfsburg last year but suffered defeat to another German side Potsdam in 2010.

For Lyon, it also completed a second triple in a row to add to their 11th successive French title and sixth successive French Cup already secured last month, the latter also on penalties against PSG.

In a match of few clear chances, PSG were reduced to desperate defending at times but nonetheless had their chances on the counter.

Bouhaddi had made a fine first-half save to deny a shot by Cruz, while Marie-Laure Delie wasted a a glorious chance for PSG in the second period. Lyon had also come close through Amel Majri and Ada Hegerberg.

Despite a healthy contingent of ‘Ultras’ more used to following PSG’s men’s team amongst the 22,000 crowd in the Welsh capital, the Parisians could not make history and Lyon’s domination of women’s football, at home and on the continent, continued.


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