Buchanan becomes 1st Canadian to win Women’s Champions League


Lyon's Kadeisha Buchanan, right, and Paris Saint-Germain's Aminata Diallo battle for the ball during the Women's Champions League Final soccer match at the Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Thursday, June 1, 2017. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)

CARDIFF, Wales — Kadeisha Buchanan made soccer history Thursday, becoming the first Canadian to hoist the Champions League trophy as Lyon defeated Paris Saint-Germain 7-6 in a penalty shootout in the final of European women’s club soccer showcase.

"I never thought I would be here winning a champions league final," said Buchanan. "I just took a leap of faith. I did something different. Normally Canadians would go in the draft in the NWSL. I had zero expectations and I think I exceeded what I thought I would do here."

The triumph came at the expense of fellow Canadian Ashley Lawrence, who played the full 120 minutes for PSG and converted her penalty in the shootout.

The two 21-year-olds, best friends who have 121 caps for Canada between them, met at the Brams United Girls Soccer Club in Brampton, Ont., at the under-nine level. Apart from their under-14 and -15 seasons in youth soccer, the two West Virginia University grads have always played together prior to joining the rival French clubs this season.

"It was definitely hard. She’s a great player. She had a fantastic game. She had the courage to take the PK which is very beautiful," said Buachanan of Lawrence. "Just to see her at the end. I kind of felt it for her because we’ve been through many battles together and I know exactly how she feels in that moment.

"I just told her to keep her head up. You have two more years here and there’s going to be many more battles. So just keep your head up. She played a great game. It was definitely hard to see her at the end."

Lyon goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi scored the winning spot kick, immediately after PSG counterpart Katarzyna Kiedrzynek sent the ball wide on her penalty attempt. Kiedrzynek buried her head in her goalkeeper gloves and then fell on her knees.

Both ‘keepers made saves as the shootout went to eight rounds.

Both teams had chances in a scoreless regulation 90 minutes. While Paris was on the front foot in the first half, Lyon began to press as the second half wore on.

The 30 minutes extra time was a tight affair.

Lyon, which had already captured the French league title and Cup, won the treble for the second year in a row. It beat Germany’s VfL Wolfsburg 4-3 on penalties in last year’s European final.

Lyon has now won four of six European finals (2011, ’12 , ’16 and ’17), matching Frankfurt’s record for appearances and titles. PSG lost to Frankfurt in its only other European final in 2015.

It marked the first time that two teams from the same country had contested the European club championship.

It was a painful loss for PSG, beaten by the same penalty shootout score in the French Cup last month.

Buchanan started in the heart of the Lyon defence, paired with Lyon captain Wendie Renard. Lawrence started at left wingback for PSG.

"No words just action from here on out !!!!!!!," Buchanan tweeted ahead of kickoff.

"We are ready — Nous sommes prets," tweeted Lawrence.

The game was played before 22,433 at Cardiff City Stadium, just three kilometres from Principality Stadium which will host Saturday’s men’s Champions League final between Juventus and Real Madrid.

The two Canadians crossed paths in the 15th minute, with Buchanan winning the contest.

Lyon’s U.S. star Alex Morgan, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, was forced to go off in the 23rd minute.

PSG captain Shirley Cruz came close in the 33rd minute but Bouhaddi made the save and the Lyon defence cleared away the rebound.

Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg had a glorious chance for Lyon in the 52nd minute, with two tries in front of goal. But she hit the first straight at Kiedrzynek and then fired the rebound wide.

PSG survived the pressure and nearly went ahead in the 63rd when Cruz carved open the Lyon defence with a fine pass to Marie-Laure Delie as Buchanan stepped forward to close Cruz down. Delie beat the ‘keeper but sent her shot just wide of the post, looking up to the sky in disbelief afterwards.

Kiedrzynek’s weak punch, thanks in part to a physical challenge from the six-foot-two Renard, cleared a Lyon free kick in the 83rd.

Lawrence played her part at both ends of the field, winning a free kick in her own penalty box deep in second-half stoppage time to end a Lyon attack.

Thursday marked the fourth meeting between the French rivals this season, with Lyon winning three with one loss.

PSG, which finished third in the league, needed to win in Cardiff to qualify for Europe next season.


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