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Kumagai wondergoal steers Lyon to five in a row


San Sebastián: Saki Kumagai lit up the 2019-20 UEFA Women’s Champions League final with an outstanding goal, as Olympique Lyonnais won the title for a record extending fifth season in a row on Sunday.

Kumagai’s 44th-minute screamer helped the French outfit to a 3-1 win over Germany’s VfL Wolfsburg, making her the first Asian player to score in the final, and the first player from the continent to become a European champion on five separate occasions.

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The 2019 AFC Women's Player of the Year’s strike put Lyon 2-0 up after an earlier goal from Eugénie Le Sommer, before Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp and Lyon’s Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir added to the scoring in the second half.

Ellie Carpenter also carved out a slice of history, becoming the first Australian player to claim a UEFA Women’s Champions League winner’s medal, although the 20-year-old full-back remained an unused substitute for Lyon.

Champions on six previous occasions, and the last four in a row, Lyon came into the match as favourites, albeit without the services of French national team captain Amandine Henry, who lost her battle to prove her fitness in time for the decider.

Also missing was 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg, who has been on the injured list since January, but the holders took control despite their notable absentees, stamping their authority on proceedings from the opening minutes.

With French international winger Delphine Cascarino particularly difficult to contain, the champions went ahead in 25th minute, with Le Sommer slamming home a low effort from close range, having been the quickest to react to Friederike Abt’s spillage of her initial shot.

The goal served as the curtain raiser for Kumagai’s magic moment, which arrived in the shadows of half-time, with the Japanese captain unleashing a sensational left-foot strike from outside the penalty area.

The scorer of decisive penalty kicks in the World and European finals in previous years, Kumagai once again delivered on the big stage, giving Abt no chance from 25 yards.

German national team star Popp pulled a goal back for Wolfsburg when she nodded the ball in from close range just before the hour mark, but Lyon’s superiority was rewarded when Gunnarsdóttir deflected in their third in the 88th minute.

The win means Lyon are the champions for the seventh time in the span of 10 seasons, with the club adding European silverware to the French league and cup titles won in their first season under head coach Jean-Luc Vasseur.

In addition to her five European club titles, Kumagai, 29, has won a FIFA Women’s World Cup, an AFC Women’s Asian Cup and an Olympic silver medal, making her one of Asia’s most decorated footballers.

Photo: AFP

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